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Monday, October 25, 2010

Why Men Don't Read Part 1

I anticipate this subject coming up repeatedly. I'm posting part of the thoughts I shared on another blog:

I kinda' knew people in general (and men in particular) were reading less and less all the time, but it didn't strike me just how bad it's gotten until I published some male-oriented fiction myself.

Up until the early 1990s, one of my favorite pastimes was hanging out at a bookstore and perusing the titles. I would always wind up buying at least one book, even if I promised myself not to. But since then there has been less and less fiction making it to the shelves which appeals to me. Window-shopping at a bookstore is now about as enjoyable as a Lifetime movie marathon or death by estrogen asphyxiation.

I like/read all genres except horror, chick-lit and gay/lesbian. (I've even listened to some romance audiobooks from the library when the pickings there were especially slim). But even in the novels written in what's still considered male genres (action adventure, techno-thrillers, military fiction, etc.), it strikes me as of, by, and for women.

As a side note, most feature films suffer from similar obligatory feminist pandering. When I paid for tickets to see Iron Man II, I wanted to see Iron Man, not Scarlet Johannson playing the obligatory amazon superninja. If I wanted that, I would have paid to see Catwoman or Electra or Charlie's Angels.

I'm glad that women have so much fiction to choose from. I wish the New York publishing cartel hadn't so completely turned its back on men. With all the technological competition (DVDs, videogames, internet-based entertainment, etc.), I don't know if men will ever resume reading. There's almost a stigma associated with it reading is "girls' stuff." Now that that concept has so permeated the average male psyche, it's not overcome easily.

And I'll add that many male authors/editors/publishers/film makers are injecting more estrogen into their work than their far more numerous female counterparts. If my entertainment choices are reading The General's Daughter or watching All Men Are Pigs III on Lifetime, I'm probably gonna choose Door # 3: play a videogame.


  1. I've been told that men don't read and women don't read books about men. It seems like a self-fulfilling prophecy. If publishers don't publish them, how are readers supposed to read them?

  2. Exactly, Susan. A self-fulfilling prophecy. That's what it looks like to me.

  3. I know this is an older post, so I doubt anyone will see this, but having had this experience only yesterday I'll chime in for posterity's sake.

    I went to a Barnes & Noble yesterday (a two story version). It took me two hours to find anything and, unsurprisingly, it was old school. What I wanted was a well written pulp adventure in some exotic locale. King Solomon's Mines or Indiana Jones type stuff. Almost the entire new release wall for the Science Fiction/Fantasy section was some sort of romance novel. The only thing I could find was a collection of stories by Robert E. Howard: El Borak and Other Desert Adventures. Exactly what I was looking for.

    While I'm impressed with the abilities of many female authors to turn any and every genre into a romance novel, I have no interest in reading any of it. I stopped bothering with TV as it is overwhelmingly an estrogen fest. I'm not alone, apparently:

  4. Thanks for chiming in, Captain Napalm (and what a pulpnificent moniker that is).

    Your anecdote mirrors pretty much all my (increasingly rare) expeditionary experiences in brick-&-mortar bookstores for the last 20 years. In fact, on the last such expedition resulting in a purchase, said purchase was also a Robert E. Howard compilation.

    I can't yet vouch for any of the new pulp being produced (until I get my Kindle hopefully in a few days), but you might consider checking out some of the links on my blog roll to the left (ProSe Productions sounds like an actual periodical pulp 'zine). Also, if you're on Facebook, there are several pulp pages--most with links to their respective publishers. The Pulp Factory, Airship 27, Pulp Tone, Age of can search for "pulp" to turn them up, or look at the "liked" pages on my Virtual Pulp Fan Page. I think I have all of them linked from that Facebook page.

    Speaking of Virtual Pulp (Cough. Ahem.): It certainly wouldn't hurt my feelings if you checked it out, either.

    All the above, or at least most, I think, are available in paperback or ebook. I plan on engaging in a pulp shopping spree once I have that Kindle in my sweaty paws.


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