Category Archives: Business

Crime Fiction Popularity Low, Despite TV Success

Cast of Breaking Bad (photo by CennoxX)

These days, television crime dramas have struck a positive chord with the viewing public, with several network and cable series ranking high in the Nielsen ratings. That said, despite the success of shows, such as AMC’s Breaking Bad, CBS’s Person of Interest and the seemingly ever-present CSI off-shoots, crime fiction books remain shockingly unpopular amongst readers. Typically, when one genre finds fortunate via a particular medium; it also reaches similar success elsewhere. Unfortunately for those who make a career out of writing these types of novels, this just isn’t the case anymore.

Demographic Discrepancies

Currently, criminal-oriented novels rank well below other books genres, such as romance, science fiction and mystery. On the other hand, when television introduces a show featuring criminal activity, it almost always seems to find instant success. Years ago, a book such as Silence of the Lambs might have little trouble finding readership. These days, things have changed for a variety of reasons. According to RJ Lawrence whose crime fiction books sell sparingly at Amazon, some of the blame belongs to demographic differences.

“A television show such as Breaking Bad is more likely to find success, because an awful lot of viewers are male,” he said. “On the other hand, fewer and fewer men are reading these days. While numerous women may enjoy a good crime drama; the vast majority would prefer something light and romantic. As reader demographics shift in the female direction, these books are finding more success.”

Another Theory

Stressful lifestyles may also be pushing readers away from intense books that focus on criminal activity. According to our in-house books and publishing expert, Lois McGinty, the modern reader is more interested in light escapism when compared to readers of the past.

“Nowadays, people are under a lot of financial stress,” she said. “The news is filled with stories of violence that make people anxious and afraid. At the end of a long day, people are less inclined to read about a killer. Instead, many prefer to enter a world of fantasy, unlike the one they must endure on a daily basis.”

Still a Demand

Despite the floundering popularity of crime genre books, some authors have still found success. Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo sold millions of copies and was adapted into a motion picture. Likewise, although it didn’t set sales records, Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men became so popular, famed directors Joel and Ethan Coen adapted it into a film that won the Academy Award for best picture.

Still, there’s no doubting ┬áthis niche has seen better days. That said, according to Lawrence, this fact shouldn’t serve to push writers toward more popular genres.

“Even the most seasoned publishing expert can’t predict what books will do well,” he said. “Authors are always better served writing about subjects they feel passionate about. Then they have to let the chips fall where they may.”