The Publishing Industry–Depressing Fiction vs. What Readers Really Want

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia
Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

In the first few weeks of my editing class, I was introduced to the publishing industry, specifically the genres, markets, and age groups that editors keep in mind when acquiring books. Our first assignment was observing the publishing industry by skimming through Publisher’s Weekly, Christian Retailing, The New York Times, and Bookforum, which covered a range of books and age groups including children’s picture books; middle-grade, young adult, and adult fiction; nonfiction; and Christian and secular books.

I had already been acquainted with the publishing world from observing my own county’s library, and I have discovered that the books marketed for older age groups tend to have content that is more violent, realistic, and depressing than the books marketed for young age groups. This realization makes me sad, for sometimes I find no reason why these age groups should be characterized by these grim topics. In fact, I have even found that some adult readers prefer younger-aged books for pleasure.

However, my own conclusion is that sometimes the grimmer, sadder topics conjure the deepest emotions of the human heart, and sometimes many of the readers relate to these topics because of their own experiences. If the latter is the case, I will not judge these books based on their audience’s reception, yet if I am to continue my career in the publishing world, I will keep being aware of the various topics, subjects, and audience needs that fuel the publishing industry, knowing that I may have to read some of these stories if I go into the publishing world.


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