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Books vs. stories

My Helpful Friend (MHF) sent me a link to Joel Rickett's Bookseller column in the Guardian (a UK paper). This column is mostly about the Frankfurt book fair, a reminder that New York is not the be all and end all of book publishing.

The news from Frankfurt seems to center on the nonfiction arena. I find it interesting that nonfiction sells so well mostly because I read so little of it. I think there's a human tendency to see yourself as the center and to assume that deviation from what you think/feel/like is deviation from the norm. Clearly, in the case of nonfiction, this is not true. I am not the center. My husband is much closer; he's fond of biographies and books about scientists and scientific breakthroughs. I sometimes read nonfiction magazines (Scientific American, National Geographic and, I admit it, People) but when I pick up a book, I want a story. I want characters that I care about, decent writing, and something happening.

Interestingly enough, those are all things that can be found in movies and TV. Perhaps that's one reason fiction sales have faded while nonfiction has held on better. Movies and TV are direct competition for the story market, but nonfiction has less to worry about there. Sure, people make documentaries, but they're not big box-office.

I suppose you could say that "reality TV" was competition, but it's my opinion that most of those shows bear little relation to reality.


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