Romance Writers Trying to Crack Male Market; Fred Adams Has Read Every Book in Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum Series, and All of Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse Novels. While His Literary Interests Are Diverse, Adams Admits That Reading Books Geared toward Women Isn't Common among His Male Peers. [Derived Headline]

By Behe, Rege | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 1, 2016 | Go to article overview

Romance Writers Trying to Crack Male Market; Fred Adams Has Read Every Book in Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum Series, and All of Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse Novels. While His Literary Interests Are Diverse, Adams Admits That Reading Books Geared toward Women Isn't Common among His Male Peers. [Derived Headline]


Behe, Rege, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Fred Adams has read every book in Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series, and all of Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse novels. While his literary interests are diverse, Adams admits that reading books geared toward women isn't common among his male peers.

Nor does he read them just to be entertained.

"I read romance novels from time to time to keep up with current publishing trends," says Adams, an author and retired English professor at Penn-State Fayette in Lemont Furnace, Fayette County. "Admittedly, this is like saying 'I buy Playboy to read the articles.' "

Adams is an outlier, a guy who admits he reads romance novel or mystery fiction targeted to women readers. A 2010 survey by Sisters in Crime, an organization that promotes "the professional development and advancement of women crime writers," revealed statistical evidence of a gender bias among readers. "The Mystery Book Consumer in the Digital Age" (co-authored with Bowker) found that 68 percent of mystery novels are purchased by women.

Another study, by the Romance Writers of America, found that women bought 84 percent of all romance novels sold in the U.S. as of the fourth quarter of 2014. This does not take into account how many of the 16 percent of men who bought romance novels read them or purchased them as gifts.

These statistics don't surprise Nancy Martin, a mystery writer from Highland Park and the author of the "Blackbird Sisters" and "Roxy Abruzzo" series.

"Men who read books generally marketed toward women -- I think they're few and far between," says Martin.

Part of the problem, Martin surmises, is the way the books are promoted. Just walk through any airport, she suggests.

"Books sold in those little convenience stores near departure gates are as clearly marked as the restroom doors, " Martin says. "Pastel covers with hazy photos of attractive body parts (rarely a whole person) for girl books. Dark covers with bold graphic lettering for boys."

"The covers don't help," Adams admits. "Any man seen reading one of the oldies with Fabio on the cover might get a horse laugh from his blue-collar friends. Or white-collar, for that matter."

The cover of Rebecca Drake's forthcoming psychological thriller, "Only Ever You," features a mother and a child. While it's a stylish, attractive image, it concerns the novelist from O'Hara, who estimates her current readership skews 60 percent women and 40 percent men.

"I'm expecting my male readership to diminish," says Drake of the novel to be released in March 2016. "My experience is that fewer men will pick up a book that has women and children and/or a strong domestic look to the cover. …

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Romance Writers Trying to Crack Male Market; Fred Adams Has Read Every Book in Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum Series, and All of Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse Novels. While His Literary Interests Are Diverse, Adams Admits That Reading Books Geared toward Women Isn't Common among His Male Peers. [Derived Headline]
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