Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Misery Loves Company or Does It?

On the back of recognizing the success of a daughter over a mother in a law suit, The Guardian reviews the misery genre in UK publishing. Notably, having seen some success the publishers are now mining it for all it's worth with the predictable result; consumer exhaustion. That coupled with the general economic misery everyone is facing and readers may be less inclined to read about someones hardship. Next up happy books?

Here is a sample of the Guardian article:
The truth is that misery - or, as the trade prefers to put it, "inspirational" - memoirs have been on the decline since the beginning of the year, with sales of the top 30 titles this year down nearly 35% on 2007, according to Nielsen BookScan. Last year's bestseller, Don't Tell Mummy, sold over 300,000 copies over the course of the year, while its equivalent this year, Not Without My Sister, is just topping 152,000, according to the Bookseller.
"I think the public quite likes them but even the most miserable person in the world has got too much now," said publisher John Blake, who took the decision to pull out of the market six months ago after judging it to be saturated. "We used to do one a month, but every major publisher is doing two a month [and] we just can't compete. Really anything with a white cover and sad face is anathema to us."
"There was a lot of over-publishing and publishing of stories that weren't as good or well-written, and there have been a lot of problems legally with some of them," agreed Carole Tonkinson, a publisher at misery memoir powerhouse HarperCollins. "We are cutting back a bit."

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