Gender Gap Emerges in Book Buying

Publishers have noticed that within the past five years, women have increasingly out bought men at bookstores. A 1994 Gallup Poll found that women made up 59 percent of the fiction bookbuyers and 53 percent of the nonfiction book buyers. Further, women are demanding that books they read contain strong female characters. As a result, of the 10 hardcover fiction titles on The New York Times bestseller list, seven feature central female characters and an eighth features a storyline targeted at a female audience.

Women writers are finding an increased audience. Jane Rosenman, the executive director at Scribner recently commented, “When I think of the novelists of our parents’ generation, it was the Mailers and the Roths and the Bellows. In the last 20 years there’s been an absolute burgeoning of first-rate women writers.” The increasingly female market has also had a strong effect in the publishing industry’s job market; a Time Warner spokesperson says that approximately three-quarters of Time’s editorial and sale executives are women. The spokesperson noted, “I think it’s fair to say publishing is a business where the editors buy from their gut. And if those guts are female, the odds are you’re going to be getting a greater mix of books with female sensibilities.”


The New York Times - March 17, 1997

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