from Latest News - Friday, December 12, 2008
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Interesting article regarding "misery" vs "escapism"...
Declining genre spells gloom for publishers
by Alison Flood The Guardian, Tuesday 2 December 2008
Publishers of "misery lit" will have been relieved at yesterday's outcome. But the truth is that all is not well in a genre which has boomed beyond all expectations since Dave Pelzer wrote A Child Called It in 1995. Sales of misery memoirs - marketed under the more upbeat label of "inspirational" memoirs - have declined this year, with the top 30 titles down nearly 35% on last year, according to Nielsen BookScan.
Last year's bestseller, Don't Tell Mummy, sold more than 300,000 copies over the year, while this year's, Not Without My Sister, is just topping 152,000, according to the Bookseller.
The slew of legal cases means publishers are changing people and place names to make the stories as unidentifiable as possible.
"These things are generally so libellous, because you're talking about abuse. We tend to change the names," said publisher John Blake.
"It's a very fraught area because it's quite subjective." Blake pulled out of the market six months ago after judging it to be saturated. "I think the public quite likes them but even the most miserable person in the world has got too many now."
Carole Tonkinson, a publisher at misery memoir powerhouse HarperCollins, says they are "cutting back a bit". She said: "There was a lot of over-publishing and there have been a lot of problems legally with some of them."
Misery memoirs earned the books industry more than £10m last year, according to the Bookseller, but are largely looked down on by the trade.
Neill Denny, editor-in-chief of the Bookseller, says: "Maybe we've reached a saturation point.
"I think misery is not what people want to read about in a recession, they want escapist books."