Esquire has apparently decided to publish fiction for men.
I do think it’s a good idea to attempt to target men with fiction. Look at the depressing stats. The typical female avid reader reads nine books in a year, while the typical male avid reader reads only five, only half as much. (What the FUCK definition of avid reader do these people have? I read nine books in the last two weeks.) Women read more in every category except history and biography, and men account for only 20% of the fiction market. Men still dominate the upper echelons of literary fiction, due to the well-known “women are cooks, men are chefs” phenomenon, but everywhere else it’s ladies all the way down.
As someone who very much likes books and values their continued existence, I think we need to get more readers, and men certainly seem to be an underserved group. As someone who has been greatly enriched by zir favorite books and cannot imagine life without them, I think that people who don’t enjoy books in some form (whether audiobook, ebook, classic book, or what) are missing out on one of life’s greatest joys, and I hate that so many men don’t get that. And as someone who wants a career as a writer about men… fuck. Read already.
I do question, however, whether Esquire’s approach is the best way to go about it. Before one goes about marketing books to men, one needs to figure out why they aren’t reading. Run focus groups. Do interviews. Issue surveys. Don’t just rely on your gender stereotypes! That way lies failure. And it really doesn’t seem like Esquire has done enough research on the “why men aren’t reading” problem to be able to solve it.
I mean, seriously? Men like “plot-driven and exciting, where one thing happens after another. And also at the same time, dealing with passages in a man’s life that seem common”? As opposed to women, who are notoriously fond of plotless, boring books in which nothing happens and there is no resonance to their lives whatsoever.
I, um, don’t think that’s what men like in books. I think that’s more-or-less what people like in books. And it’s a good thing that Esquire is attempting to publish good fiction? But I don’t think they should be calling it men’s fiction then. It’s just people’s fiction. Strictly speaking, it’s a better approach than “men like guns, right? Big guns! Also ladies with big tits who will fuck the hero in the first chapter! Maybe we can work in something about muscle cars.” But not only is Esquire’s somewhat insulting to women, I fear that it’s not actually going to help.
I guess now is the time for everyone to be all “so, Ozy, how do you intend to solve this problem?” Fuck, man, I dunno. But there’s got to be some way more effective than that.
Five books. Shame. Shame. I shame ALL OF YOU. Get off the Internet and read something with pages, plebes.