Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Are there too many books published?

[poll id="185"]

There are officially over 400 books published each month and this number only counts print published books and does not take into account digitally published books.

400 seems like a lot, particularly given that we don’t have tons of diversity within the genre. Do we need less books published (and hopefully higher quality) or is the number just right or do we need more books published?

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

60 Comments

  1. limecello
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 16:54:01

    Oooo you had to go there… well I will too. I was going to initially say, “No! of course there aren’t enough books being published! I can’t find anything to read!” Which is a major over generalization of my thoughts.
    But I stumped a lot of people, rejecting their book recommendations (although a number of them I’d already read before, in defense of authors.)
    So… I don’t know. What if less books cuts out that one terrific one? But if it’s that good wouldn’t it have gotten published anyway? (From what I hear, no. Quality isn’t necessarily/always the most important selling point.)

    Anyway, likely my comment has no bearing on anything publishers do, and I’ll stop rambling and get back to the dormant commerce clause. : [Especially since I said nothing- I figure, if it's working for publishers now, it's fine - if not, maybe some changes do need to be made. For sure, regardless of what the decision is, I wouldn't mind some more good books.]

    … and dammit, of course in the time it took me to comment and for it to post, you put up a poll, so now I look like the douchebag that has to spout off instead of just vote.
    Damn you. :P Well I say at the point where I’ve already said so much, I’m going to leave it. So there.

  2. Moriah Jovan
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 17:01:33

    I couldn’t vote, because this is the option I would have chosen:

    It’s just right IF there were FAR more diversity in the offerings than there is. I don’t read paranormal/vamp/urban fantasy/werebeasts. I’ll pick up the SF/F ones occasionally if they’re not the same myths retrod time and again. Tired of Regency.

    I want more straight contemporary (excluding category), single title or series; I don’t care about that.

    I want different historical periods and different treatments (thank you Elizabeth Hoyt!).

    I’d really like some more of those really intellectually dense AND hawt books like the old Susan Johnsons. With footnotes, thanks.

  3. GrowlyCub
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 17:10:32

    Could you pretty please fix the poll? It’s ‘fewer’ books, not less. Pretty please with sugar on it, more of it, not less! :)

    As far as the question is concerned. I think there are too many books being published and not enough of them getting the attention they deserve publicity-wise. The more the publishers throw on the market to hit a fad, the more the quality suffers!

    Btw, does that 400 a month include all genres, fiction and non-fiction?

  4. Jane
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 17:14:07

    It’s 400 romance books published per month.

  5. GrowlyCub
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 17:18:16

    Wow, where does that number come from? I guess HQ provides the majority, but I still wouldn’t have thought we come anywhere near 400 a month. Amazing! And not really in a good way. No wonder my TBR mountain will be a range before too long! :)

  6. Tee
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 17:30:16

    400? Wow, that really is a lot for just one month! And I had only a couple of books in June that were really any good IMO. What does that tell me? Fewer books, but having more quality; that’s what we need each month.

  7. Keishon
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 17:33:43

    Voted that we need LESS. Less is good. Prefer to wait for a quality read than have stuff cranked out in a rush and have it suck.

  8. Laura
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 17:40:09

    Even I cannot read 400 books in a month, so my first instinct is to go with “fewer books but higher quality.” BUT…I don’t read category, which must account for close to 100 of those, and I wouldn’t want category readers to miss out on what they like. That leaves 300, a number I still find incredibly hard to believe.

    But still, as a few others have mentioned, all too often I cannot find a single book in the romance genre I want to read. Some of that is trends — I don’t read fangs or fur, I don’t read erotica — and some of it is a quality issue. By far my preferred subgenre is romantic suspense, and I’d love to see the numbers on how many of those are produced a month.

    So I guess I’d have to say I’d like to see a wider variety of books. If that means more books, great, just so long as more books doesn’t mean less quality.

  9. EC Sheedy
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 17:48:02

    I voted for fewer books–even if that puts me, an author, on the sidelines.

    I think there are too many books published for the available shelf space, too much emphasis on selling a zillion of a title within days of publication. To me–and what the hell do I know :-)–there’s not enough time for a dead-tree book to find its legs, grow from word of mouth, before its off the shelf and a new one takes its place. But then I’m big into slow these days . . .

    Four hundred books a month you say. I’d heard somewhere–and no, given the state of my office, I won’t go look–that it’s even more than that.

  10. Mischa
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 17:51:15

    I voted for more. Less books = higher quality is just wishfull thinking as far as I’m concerned. Also, I bet at least 1/2 of the 400 a month are Category Romances and I almost never read those because they’re too short.

  11. Edie
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 17:58:44

    My first thought is to echo what EC Sheedy said.. but would like to know how many of that 400 are category romances??

  12. Phyllis
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 18:27:53

    I read a book recently by an established author and it reeked. seriously awful! now she has a book out just about every month, it seems. i feel that a dozen new authors should get all those spots.

    if a good book could be published in the place of really bad ones (and yes, that’s usually subjective, but this book i read… seriously should have been rejected), then i’d say it’s about right, as long as there’s lots of variety.

  13. ASable
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 18:35:38

    My initial thought was that fewer books = better quality but the reality is that fewer books simply equal fewer books. So, I voted on the other side of the spectrum–even if more books doesn’t answer the issue of quality, at the very least, it does allow for more diversity of topic, opinion and choice. With fewer books on the market, you’ll see only the “safest” choices for publishers, and these won’t even be best. Mostly, you’ll find publishers sticking with established authors (even when the work isn’t good) and you won’t see anything on the fringe, like the alternate-universe steampunk/erotic romance/sci-fi anthologies Sherry Thomas mentioned in another thread!

  14. jmc
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 18:37:21

    If fewer books published led to better editing, marketing, etc., then that’s my vote. But I feel rather pessimistic about it- probably the fewer books published, the smaller the editorial staff and marketing budget.

  15. rebyj
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 18:38:46

    I just personally want a bigger percentage of those 400 books a month! I can only buy 2 -4 new releases a month depending on if they’re hardback or paperback. OMG I’m missing out on way too much. I’m gonna go pout now.

  16. Bonnie
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 18:45:00

    I wouldn’t necessarily want fewer books, but if that’s what it takes to get better books, so be it. There’s a lot of crap out there.

    Also, could we please have something other than regency historicals? If I read one more thing about corsets, drawers, dukes, virgins, etc., I think I will scream. PLEASE. Any other period would be nice. What about the first half of the 20th century? That would be wonderful.

    We’re in a rut.

  17. joanne
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 18:46:04

    Who would decide the best number of books to be published every month?
    What subjects and sub-genres would be less likely to be included every month?
    Would established authors get precedence over new authors or not?
    Will publishers who release too many books be sent to Australian penal colonies (and if so, how do I get a job with them?)

    Too many more questions rolling around in my wittle, teensy brain to answer that poll.

  18. Larisa
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 18:55:00

    I vote for fewer books and better quality. During June, I bought four historical romances from big name authors and they’re all crap. Can’t read them, and this is becoming the norm. The big publishers need to back off from their current assembly line mentality of quantity over quality and go in the other direction. I want decent, well-written books again!

  19. katiebabs
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 18:56:34

    400 books per month? How many publishers are releasing these? For the reader, it is great. to have so much to choose from As for the author, it is just more competition for them.

  20. GrowlyCub
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 18:59:41

    Also, could we please have something other than regency historicals?

    That’s so interesting, because I want more of those and really wish all those boring (to me) romantic suspense and paranormal thingies would go away! :)

    I wouldn’t want to read a book set in the first half of the 20th century (also to me that would not exactly be a contemporary but definitely not a historical either); much too close with awful realities confronting people and women in particular with WWI and WWII, women being forced back into the ‘domestic sphere’ after the end of WWII… Nope, not for me, give me a Regency or Georgian any day; those periods are nicely distant in history so that the reality of war doesn’t hit you quite as much in the face and you have a bit of that fantasy element to cover up that women’s rights were non-existent.

    Maybe we do need all 400 of those romance novels each month after all, ’cause Bonnie thinks they are all Regencies and I think they are all paranormal and romantic suspense or chick lit or women’s fic.

    What I do wish is that publishers would stop all jumping on the same fad wagon, cranking out yet one more of the same subgenre because it’s hot, long beyond the point where people have gotten tired of said subgenre being published/marketed to the exclusion of any other subgenre.

    I think over the long run they’d make much more money if they supplied all readers instead of only those who enjoy the books considered hot potatoes by publishers. If I look at my reading the ratio of currently released to published in the last 20 years is probably 1 in 15, with the majority of the books purchased used, because they aren’t on the shelf and haven’t been in years.

  21. Jackie Barbosa
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 19:05:42

    Also, could we please have something other than regency historicals? If I read one more thing about corsets, drawers, dukes, virgins, etc., I think I will scream. PLEASE. Any other period would be nice. What about the first half of the 20th century? That would be wonderful.

    Bonnie, please send letters requesting to all editors in NY, lol. I have a Prohibition Era proposal that my agent wants to shop. It would be lovely if editors were banging down her door for the period.

  22. Bonnie
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 19:11:32

    That's so interesting, because I want more of those and really wish all those boring (to me) romantic suspense and paranormal thingies would go away! :)

    Heh… well, that’s exactly why they keep churning out the historicals. Many people love them. Me? I’m sick to death of them.

    much too close with awful realities confronting people and women in particular with WWI and WWII, women being forced back into the ‘domestic sphere' after the end of WWII…

    I’m fairly certain there is much more to that era than what you’ve described. Women probably had a lot more to choose from in that period than in the regency period.

  23. Moriah Jovan
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 19:14:59

    well, that's exactly why they keep churning them out. Many people love them.

    Or are people buying them because that’s all they’ve got to choose from? The reader is not entirely to blame here.

  24. Bonnie
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 19:16:14

    Bonnie, please send letters requesting to all editors in NY, lol. I have a Prohibition Era proposal that my agent wants to shop. It would be lovely if editors were banging down her door for the period.

    Jackie, I wish you luck, I really do.

    Truly, it would be a breath of fresh air.

  25. Bonnie
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 19:17:30

    Or are people buying them because that's all they've got to choose from? The reader is not entirely to blame here.

    Exactly, Moriah! I’ve done it myself.

  26. GrowlyCub
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 19:22:55

    I'm fairly certain there is much more to that era than what you've described. Women probably had a lot more to choose from in that period than in the regency period.

    That may be the case, but I was describing why I would not be interested in that time period myself since you gave it as an example of different period historical you would enjoy. Add to that the Great Depression, the Spanish Influenza, the Holocaust and that period of time just doesn’t say ‘romance’ friendly to me.

    I get that it does for others. I was just trying to make the point that I do not find enough of what I would like to read whereas you think there’s too much of it out there.

  27. (Jān)
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 19:28:44

    I’m one who wants more Regencies, of the traditional variety. Think of all those now-defunct lines we used to have like Signet. Now I find trads via ebooks.

    I don’t think fewer books would mean higher quality. Sturgeon’s Law will always come into play. One romance published a month would just mean a whole lot of unhappy romance fans. I mean, what if all 12 books were vampire romances? ;) The more variety, the more people will be able to find their niche and the good books within it.

  28. Bonnie
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 19:28:55

    I’m not saying writers should stop writing hisoricals. People obviously want to read them.

    Could we just have something else, please? That’s all.

  29. Silver James
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 19:32:25

    It’s the “big box store” mentality. They tell us what we should read, even if that’s not what we want to read. If those 400 books were all (or even mostly) different, I’d be all for it. Right now, it’s all whatever the lastest/greatest fad is. I think that’s one reason small presses and ebooks will start to filter into the market in a big way. The quality and diversity is there, even if a reader has to expend the effort to find the book/subgenre of their choice.

  30. GrowlyCub
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 19:34:53

    @Silver James:

    Exactly and e-book publishers are actually filling a niche there such as Belgrave House who has been re-issuing old Signet titles for $5.00 a pop (Joan Wolf and Laura Matthews to name a couple that have name recognition here).

  31. md
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 19:46:40

    I voted fewer books. But I’d really prefer tougher, smarter publishers and editors.

  32. Cindy from Michigan
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 20:41:38

    I find it interesting that, if given a choice, some people will put limits on anything that won’t hurt anyone.

    I vote: More…more..more!

    The world is filled with limitless abundance, and we only stop ourselves from enjoying all that and more by our own choices and narrow decisions to say, “This is enough.” Like there’s ever really enough of anything good.

    Good being totally subjective.

    Moriah said it very well, too: more diversity.

    If there is anything negative I find in the publishing world of romance, it’s that it’s structured within the confines of the final word of a surprisingly small number of editors who make all the final decisions on what we ultimately read.

    Is it any wonder, then, that it feels sometimes like we’re reading the same story over and over again? Maybe I’m being unfair. Maybe the editors have their own demons to battle from the publishers who tell them, “This sells, so give us more of this.”

    But the “more of this” feels mostly all the same. Boring.

    So the greater the number of books out there, the better the chances of finding that hidden treasure.

    And there can never be too many books.

  33. Jill Sorenson
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 20:48:03

    I’m surprised by those who think there aren’t enough good books to choose from. My TBR is out of control! I love to try new authors, and I’m hopelessly behind on my auto-buys. I don’t want fewer books…I want more time.

  34. ReacherFan
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 21:07:00

    There are LOTS of books, but many are just so-so. I have a huge TBR pile, and many books I’ve started and then put down because I really couldn’t get into them.

    What I am tired of is the difficulty in finding new authors. I’m always looking for someone new and good. Only a handful are promoted while many deserving authors never get out of a small audience because all the marketing dollars are spent promoting the next Dan Brown blockbuster, or James Patterson, or John Grisham book.

    The whole business model is hard on authors and readers alike.

  35. FD
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 21:11:39

    I couldn’t answer.

    I’d like to think fewer would mean better quality, but I’m fairly certain it wouldn’t. Other than that, the only reason for fewer would be ‘because there are so many being published that it’s splitting the available readership into unworkably small fragents for professional writers to survive.’ Which a) I don’t think is currently the case, b) is a fallacy anyway because (as someone else pointed out upthread) even if only 12 books were published per year, there’s no guarantee that any more people would buy them, c) putting out fewer books would have to be a voluntary and individual decision on each publishers part and it’s never going to happen at least until they hit the unworkably small returns per book limit, d) with ebooks, you don’t need a huge number of sales to be getting a reasonable ROI, and last but not least e) there’s an expandable market in men reading romance just waiting to happen.

    I don’t know about increasing the numbers of books published either – no idea of how close we are to the limit of what the market will bear. If that wasn’t a consideration, then I’d say go for it, in the hope that we’d get more variety!

    And I can’t say I’m entirely happy with what’s currently available, and reading down neither does anybody else, so I can’t say I’m happy with where we are either.

  36. Cindy
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 21:21:47

    I agree with more IF there’s more diversity. I had no idea there were 400 romances a month, but I bet close to at least 100 are category. A huge percentage are re-issues. I’m just dipping my toe in the vampire lines, but most of the historicals seem to be Regencies and I’m such a non-Regency fan. All of those titles and names that are so confusing. Ugh. Where are my Knights, Vikings and Cowboys? That’s who I want! Along with fun contemporaries that are not about billionaires…where’s the mechanics for heaven’s sakes? I certainly don’t end up buying anywhere close to 400 in a month…heck…I don’t even see that many in RT. At any rate, the publishers have to stop thinking that everyone wants to read the same thing. Oh. And yes. Where are my futuristics????

  37. K. Z. Snow
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 22:36:27

    Larger print pubs can’t be trusted to put out more books. The result would merely be more crappy, derivative fiction.

  38. kellykrysten
    Jul 13, 2009 @ 22:39:42

    Um, wonder if the self-published books are added into that number. 400 is insane. But I’m never opposed to more books.:)

  39. Sam
    Jul 14, 2009 @ 00:23:17

    Wandering if you are adding ebooks into that figure? I don’t read them since I can’t stand to read on the computer and the money tree hasn’t given me fruit enough for a reader.

    I am on a contemorary kick at the momment, and wandered about B&N for quite awhile tonght and came out empty handed. Where are all these books?? If I exclude historicals and paranormals, the pickin’s are slim.

  40. KeriM
    Jul 14, 2009 @ 06:57:34

    I am of the camp of we need less, but higher quality. I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing some books of foreign lands, provided they are well written. Nothing turns me off faster on a book, is one that is so poorly written, that I can’t see the characters and places in my head and if I can’t see it I won’t finish it.

    I would like to see what an author could do with a prohibition time frame romance in the wilds of Kentucky or West Virgina. Or a historical romance set it Asia or something tropical.

  41. RStewie
    Jul 14, 2009 @ 07:07:08

    I would say less, but there’s no way to ensure quality improves of the ones that DO get published.

    I think I might say more, then, because maybe we’ll be able to get out of this “romance rut” everyone is talking about. If it’s not a paranormal, or a regency, or a romantic suspense, it doesn’t get published. If there were MORE published, I can only assume that there would end up being a great diversity, too, just as a matter of numbers and statistics.

  42. Suzanne Allain
    Jul 14, 2009 @ 08:28:25

    I'm one who wants more Regencies, of the traditional variety. Think of all those now-defunct lines we used to have like Signet. Now I find trads via ebooks.

    Me, too! Me, too! It seems a shame with 400 books a month released that those of us who loved the Regency traditionals can’t even get one a month. I haven’t bought a new romance book since Signet stopped publishing Regency trads. (Although I have been buying quite a few eBooks and used books.) Oh, and I did buy one of the Mills & Boons Regencies when they used to stock them in my local bookstore, but now they seem to have disappeared as well.

    I went in a bookstore with a gift certificate a few months ago and perused the romance titles. It seemed to me there were a lot of books, but not a lot of authors. I left empty-handed.

  43. Randi
    Jul 14, 2009 @ 08:28:38

    400 romances published a month?! Um…where are those in hard copy, b/c B&N and Borders probably only show 100 of those. If that. So, for me, this is a shelf space issue. If 400 is normal, even counting categories which I do not read, I am not getting access to all those books. My vote was more, b/c I only see what B&N and Borders puts out for me to see. However, I would bet that within that 400, I could find lots of authors that would entertain me for a long time. So, my answer was predicated on the fact that I am not getting access to that entire 400.

    In general though-I’m all for more more more more books.

    And to whomever up thread mentioned the dearth of single title contemps-amen, sister!

  44. Randi
    Jul 14, 2009 @ 08:30:45

    Sam,

    for what it’s worth, Borders, generally, has a bigger romance selection than B&N; while B&N has a bigger SciFi/Fantasy section than Borders.

  45. MarnieColette
    Jul 14, 2009 @ 08:32:41

    Wow tough question for me. I read tons and average about 10 book purchases a month with a 4 to 6 (e-book/print book ratio)

    I would say that 400 seems a lot – what is the subcategories? genre’s?

    If there were less printed I would want the ratio to obviously stay the same. I love scifi/fantasy and I am addicted to paranormals. Not so big on regencies.

    I don’t necessarily think less equals better quality. I can only think less would be better if that would increase advertising and marketing for the authors.

    Its a hard question but I tend to lean toward a little less why simply because I was truly unaware of 400 books being published a month and I consider myself a well informed reader which tells me there are so many good authors and stories out there I am unaware of because of the vast amounts being released.

    I hope I made sense here, I gave up coffee yesterday and my rambling has increased. :)

  46. Sam
    Jul 14, 2009 @ 09:12:23

    Sam,

    for what it's worth, Borders, generally, has a bigger romance selection than B&N; while B&N has a bigger SciFi/Fantasy section than Borders.

    Thanks Randi…I remember that being the case, but unfortunately Borders closed up its three stores here almost two years ago. Still waiting for another local choice, but in the meantime I do most of my buying online.

  47. Jackie Barbosa
    Jul 14, 2009 @ 09:40:54

    I’m not really sure how to frame this observation, so bear with me…

    It seems to me that one of the reasons we get so many books that seem “the same” is that these books cater to particular, RELIABLE pockets of the romance market (i.e., late Georgian/Regency/Victorian historicals, paranormal w/ vampires/shifters/demons/what-have-you, etc.). Publishers can count on those books selling a reasonable number of copies because they know, from experience, there is a demand for them.

    But also for that reason, there’s not much enthusiasm in experimenting outside those boundaries, especially when the author is new/unknown. Publishers can kind of count on those who like English-set historicals to pick up a book set in England in a familiar/popular period to pick up one by an author they’ve never heard of. But one set in colonial America or an odd period in England (Tudor, Restoration) is a much riskier bet, because there’s little to no evidence that readers are interested in reading books set in those periods/places, and therefore, there’s a risk that consumers will simply pass over such a book altogether.

    Part of the problem is that publishers rely on volume to make a profit. If they don’t see a demand for a particular type of book, even if they think it’s a great, worthy book, it’s a risk they simply may not be able to take. But it’s a vicious circle. Readers don’t find enough “different” books because publishers can’t afford to take risks on “too different.” But when publishers try books that are different (especially in the historical sub-genre, where there is so much room for “difference”), they often don’t sell well because not enough readers are interested in them to buy them. More readers want the lords and ladies and corsets and fancy dresses and manners than want the cowboys and vikings and knights (although there are quite a lot of medievals still being published, IMO–Margaret Mallory’s KNIGHT OF DESIRE, which came out early this month, is terrific, BTW), and so that’s what publishers publish.

    I don’t know how to overcome this cycle, though. Mass market print publishing, by design, can’t afford to serve niche markets. And once a particular sub-genre becomes popular enough to be noticed by the mass market presses, it’s no longer a “niche” and no longer “different.”

    Catch-22.

  48. Ciar Cullen
    Jul 14, 2009 @ 10:03:16

    I’m still good with my New Year’s resolution to read only digital books. I’ve had no problem finding great books I enjoy immensely, and that won’t even scratch the surface of those offerings. I’ve spent probably less than half of what I would have spent on print books, and still have plenty of room on my hard drive for more. That doesn’t quite answer the question, I know.

  49. Heather Massey
    Jul 14, 2009 @ 10:28:22

    Oh. And yes. Where are my futuristics????

    Well said!!

    I don't know how to overcome this cycle, though. Mass market print publishing, by design, can't afford to serve niche markets. And once a particular sub-genre becomes popular enough to be noticed by the mass market presses, it's no longer a “niche” and no longer “different.”

    It may not be a matter of overcoming the cycle (seemingly a Herculean task anyway). Your comment made me wonder if it’s an issue of adjusting our expectations as readers to anticipate that diversity will come over time instead of occurring all at once. Your observations point to very realistic factors that inhibit risky experimentation. Many niche genres are niche for a reason–not the least of which is that many times only a very limited number of readers who like them.

    For example, occasionally there are discussions about alternate settings/time periods for historical romances, and how that’s not viable now. But it wouldn’t surprise me if in the future that became a huge niche to exploit. Or it might stay a trickle that adds up to a significant amount of books over the course of a decade.

    It bites to have to wait, but that might be the way of things.

  50. GrowlyCub
    Jul 14, 2009 @ 13:54:19

    they often don't sell well because not enough readers are interested in them to buy them.

    I don’t think that’s the reason. I think the reason is that all the advertising dollars have gone into the mega sellers and so the readers cannot *find* those other kind of books because they aren’t pointed towards them by the publisher.

    Publishers these days do not want to wait, but with all things, sometimes you have to wait for word of mouth to spread. By the time that happens for a print book, it’s off the shelves. If it didn’t sell enough by accident, there won’t be another one. Anybody with any business sense can tell you that you need investment first before you see returns, but the publishing industry seems to currently have forgotten that. They want every book to be an instant bestseller and if it’s not, goodbye author. It’s ridiculous!

  51. Kalen Hughes
    Jul 14, 2009 @ 14:24:02

    It seems to me that one of the reasons we get so many books that seem “the same” is that these books cater to particular, RELIABLE pockets of the romance market (i.e., late Georgian/Regency/Victorian historicals, paranormal w/ vampires/shifters/demons/what-have-you, etc.). Publishers can count on those books selling a reasonable number of copies because they know, from experience, there is a demand for them.

    Jackie pretty much summed it up perfectly IMO. All I would add is that many of today's writers were yesterday's rabid fan girl readers, so it only makes sense that they chose to write books set in the era that captured their imagination.

    For example, occasionally there are discussions about alternate settings/time periods for historical romances, and how that's not viable now. But it wouldn't surprise me if in the future that became a huge niche to exploit. Or it might stay a trickle that adds up to a significant amount of books over the course of a decade.

    Wouldn't surprise me either. All it takes is one unexpected hit to see a new setting or idea take off (just look where we're at with vampires, LOL!). If you look around, you DO see “off the beaten path” historical settings. Check out Jade Lee (Imperial China), T. J. Bennet (16th century Landsknechts), Carrie Lofty (12th century “Robin Hood”), Michelle Styles (Romans and Vikings), Elizabeth Lane (Victorian and Edwardian), Monica McCarty (17th century Scottish), not to mention all of us who do non-Regency, Georgian settings (Jo Beverly, Elizabeth Hoyt, and me, just to name a few).

  52. Randi
    Jul 14, 2009 @ 14:25:20

    Heather,

    “But it wouldn't surprise me if in the future that became a huge niche to exploit. Or it might stay a trickle that adds up to a significant amount of books over the course of a decade.”

    That’s a really good point. I think Erotic Romance (esp BDSM and menage) is a perfect example. Initially, these types of stories were epubbed only. Then, a few were also printed, then more, and now it’s snowballing. The volume of Erotic Romance coming out is staggering (in a good way, IMO) and will probably continue to increase.

    I have also noticed more cowboy (both contemp cowboy and wild west cowboy) stories coming out, lately. Perhaps another niche coming into it’s own…?

  53. Kalen Hughes
    Jul 14, 2009 @ 14:44:29

    I have also noticed more cowboy (both contemp cowboy and wild west cowboy) stories coming out, lately. Perhaps another niche coming into it's own…?

    I would say this is evidence of the cyclical nature of publishing. Westerns used to be HUGE, but then they lost their market power and presence (though they never disappeared entirely). Now you're seeing them as everything from Inspies to Erotics.

  54. Heather Massey
    Jul 14, 2009 @ 18:19:39

    @Kalen I saved that list for future reference/reading. Thank you!

    readers cannot *find* those other kind of books because they aren't pointed towards them by the publisher.

    This reminds me of the time I learned that one of the highest renting genres on Netflix is documentaries. Of course, this information isn’t readily obvious because documentaries don’t get the same theatrical push as say, films like TRANSFORMERS. But clearly, the audience is there. In the words of the immortal Dana Scully, “You (publishers) just have to know where to look.”

  55. Diane V
    Jul 15, 2009 @ 08:39:29

    Fewer – better quality; especially from former favorites like Linda Howard, Catherine Coulter, Iris Johansen, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Suzanne Brockman, etc. I know the fan girls still rave about these authors, but seriously read a Linda Howard book from 10 years ago like “Dream Man” or “After the Night” and her new books really suck the big wazoo.

  56. EC Sheedy
    Jul 15, 2009 @ 09:11:24

    Diane, I wonder if some of these authors suffer from the pressure to produce books too fast. To keep one in the pipeline at all times. I don’t know.

    I’ve liked and read most of the authors you’ve mentioned. They’ve given me hours of pleasure, but maybe with publishers determined to bring out new (many) books on a constant basis, the tension builds for established authors to hold their place, write faster and faster. And maybe that just doesn’t work for some writers.

    I don’t know if that’s true, just a thought.

  57. Tammy
    Jul 15, 2009 @ 09:56:27

    Voted that we need LESS. Less is good. Prefer to wait for a quality read than have stuff cranked out in a rush and have it suck.

    Mucho agreement with Keishon.

    I can’t tell you how heartbreaking it is when one of your favorite authors starts cranking out multiple books a year and the quality noticeably drops off. Burning out readers and authors with this business model is not the behavior of a publisher who is ‘interested in building authors’ careers’ – it’s a flat-out money grab.

    I’d rather an author write one great book a year rather than 2-3 *meh* books that turn me off the authors’ work altogether.

    Glutting the market with mere product is shooting ourselves in the foot.

  58. Randi
    Jul 15, 2009 @ 10:11:44

    I agree with all those who would rather have authors issue a really good book once a year. The wait is excruciating, but well worth the wait. However, that leaves a lot of room for new authors-which is, imo, great. If that 400 number is mostly new authors, then I’m all for it.

    However, there are several authors, where they write and then sell a trilogy, and it gets released over a period of several months. I’m OK with that scenerio, as well, as the books were already written when they were optioned. Waiting a year, when they are already written, seems counter productive, for both the author and the reader.

  59. Kalen Hughes
    Jul 15, 2009 @ 14:14:00

    The problem is that most of us would like to make enough money to pay the bills, and for most midlisters, one book a year just won’t do that . . .

  60. Evangeline
    Jul 15, 2009 @ 17:46:34

    What I wonder is why the diversity in historicals disappeared. Many romance readers have been fans of the genre long enough to remember–and to have read–books set in all sorts of time periods by their favorite authors, so why the mindset of “Regency only, please”? Granted, I can see why the Regency remains a staple, since the trad was the backbone of historical romance (wonder what historicals would look like had there been traditional Westerns or traditional Medievals?), but when authors like Johanna Lindsay, Jane Feather, Iris Johanssen, Nicole Jordan, Jo Beverly, and a host of other veteran authors, who bounced around different time periods during the 80s and 90s, I have to say: what gives?

    I make it a habit of seeking out “unusual” historicals because it’s all about the bottom line to publishers. Even purchasing a mainstream authors like Sherry Thomas–whose NQAH was set predominantly in Central Asia–and Lydia Joyce– whose Music of the Night was set in Venice & Whispers of the Night in Romania/Ottoman Empire–is voting with my pocketbook because non-British settings within the 19th century are practically a no-go in this cold climate. I have nothing against the Regency because I still believe there are fresh stories to be told if a writer digs through history and biographies for material, but the glut of it kills the historical romance.

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