Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Men Wear Shoes Too

A long time ago, two shoe salesmen were sent to a small village to hawk their wares. The first shoe salesman said, "There is no market here. Nobody wears shoes." The second shoe salesman said, "The market is unlimited here! Nobody wears shoes!"

I just saw this article by Chris Goldberg on the Huffington Post and felt it was worth linking to. If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say "Men Don't Read" in an editorial/marketing/publicity meeting, I could have retired already. I hate this notion that men don't read, and hate even more the fact that it seems to be accepted by most people. I can't tell you how many times I saw books either rejected or given the short end of the stick because people didn't think it would appeal to women. 

A while back, I wrote a post about how there have been so many imprints specifically geared towards women, yet none geared towards men. I can never understand this. Men, especially young men, are massive consumers of pop culture and entertainment, spend as much if not more money than women on movies and video games (perhaps even music), and yet for the most part they are roundly ignored when it comes to publishing. There is such a massive, untapped market here, and it boggles my mind at just how uninterested people seem to be to publish books that appeal to it, or unmotivated they are to find out how to market to it.

Right now, publishing has the attitude of the first shoe salesman. Anyway, check out the article. It's worth a read. Even if you're a man.



Blogger janegodzilla said...

Men, especially young men, are massive consumers of pop culture and entertainment, spend as much if not more money than women on movies and video games (perhaps even music), and yet for the most part they are roundly ignored.

Um, not to be dismissive here, but I think the vast majority of pop culture is aimed at men...including books. The only things that aren't explicitly aimed at men are those items with the dismissive "chick" in the label. The reason there are no specific lines aimed at men is because men are the default in advertising. Heck, they canceled Firefly because FOX executives didn't like that the show drew more women viewers than men...and that was a show meant for guys! I really don't think more male-oriented lines is what we need. How about stuff that appeals to both men and women, without insulting the consumer by making assumptions about what it is they enjoy?

12:44 PM  
Blogger Jason Pinter said...

I agree most pop culture in general might be aimed at men--specifically movies and video games--but it's well known that part of the reason that television ratings are down is because men have been abandoning the medium due to lack of shows that appeal to them and other mdeiums--specifically video games--taking up more time. I never watched Firefly (I keep meaning to) so I can't speak much to it.

I agree that the vast majority of pop culture can appeal to men and women (I enjoy a lot of books that are classified as "women's literature"), but in publishing especially men tend to be alienated due to the false theory that men don't read. In the article In linked to, check out the cover of Jonathan Tropper's book. I agree, most guys wouldn't be caught dead reading that on a subway. So yes a lot of pop culture can be enjoyed by both sexes, but too often books that can be enjoyed be all are marketed towards one gender at the expense of the other under the false prophecy that they wouldn't read it anyway.

That said, it's silly to assume that both genders enjoy everything equally. There are books written specifically for all kinds of women, yet very few specifically for men (at least that get published). There are no major imprints dedicated towards men, yet several towards women. I think there absolutely should be books geared towards certain genders, but it just seems far too lopsided considering the gender lines in every other form of pop culture.

12:55 PM  
Blogger Daniel Bell said...

Do you think the focus on the market for women has anything to do with the number of women in publishing? Every tiny college in the English speaking world has started an MFA program in creative writing, and many are busting at the seams with women. Trouble is, the world needs only so much sensitive, belly-button staring, self-indulgent poetry and novels written by folks with all the tools and no non-school miles on them. So they end up with jobs slogging through slush piles, rejecting everything the MFA factories have trained them not to like--much of which, I'm guessing, would appeal to young men.

1:19 PM  
Blogger Stuart Neville said...

Good post, and an excellent article you linked to. I blogged about this very thing more than a year ago here. I'm going to my nearest big book store this afternoon, and I know the vast majority of the prime shelf space will be taken up by pastel shades and cutesy pictures of stilletoes and handbags, leaving me to dig through the crime section for anything I'd be interested in.

7:44 AM  

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