Monday, April 09, 2012

Where Have All The Readers Gone?


This past week I was talking with a writer friend about trends in Christian Fiction. Here are some observations I've made:

1. Big name authors are moving from one place to another. Recently, two authors that wrote for Bethany House, the grand mac-daddy of them all when it comes to historical romance, announced contracts with other publishing houses.

2. Last week, I read an article online (and I apologize, I've searched and searched, but I can't find it!) where an employee of Bethany House Publishers was quoted as saying the readers of historical romance/fiction just aren't there like they were previously.

3. One trend that seems to be holding its own, with a slight leveling off due to the sheer number of titles on the market, is Amish fiction.

4. And here's where I'm doing a little spit-balling. Christian Historical Romance and Amish Fiction have several things in common. Both take you to another time and place, one where moral strictures and a fierce sense of propriety guide society. Both hearken to a simpler time.

5. There is a finite amount of $$$ readers of Christian Fiction have to spend on books.

6. Readers of Christian Historical Romance haven't vanished. They're spreading their love around. There is so much cross-over between historical romance and Amish fiction, they buy both, but they can't buy all of both.

7. Trends ebb and flow. At a conference I attended in 2007, not a single editor or agent was looking for historical fiction. (Which bummed me out, because that's what I write.) By the next year, every editor and agent on the discussion panels said they were looking for historical romance. Who knows what will happen this year?

So, question for you...Are you a reader of historical fiction? Amish fiction? Both? Neither?

What trend are you hoping will take off, or what trend are you hoping will wane soon?

32 comments:

  1. I'm an avid reader of historical fiction, romance in particular. I'm not into Amish fiction, although on rare occasion I'll read it.

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    1. That's me, too, Keli. I guess I am not enchanted with Amish fiction because I know a lot of Amish folks and the lifestyle doesn't really appeal to me.

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  2. This is an interesting post - thank you for sharing your observations! :) I'm a writer of historical romance (unpublished, but hoping to be published someday, if it is the Lord's will!), so I'm hoping that historical romance stays or gets strong. As a reader, I do enjoy both historical romance and Amish fiction - but I also enjoy other genres, as well. As far as your 5th point, I agree - but I get a lot of books for free now as a book reviewer...

    ...which leads me to a link I wanted to share:

    http://theborrowedbook.blogspot.com/2012/04/where-past-meets-present-book-reviews.html

    Yes (*blushing*), this is a blog post I wrote for today... But I'm really hoping to generate discussion regarding book reviews, so I'd be honored if you or any of your readers would like to join in! :) (Hope you don't mind me sharing this here!)

    ~Amber

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    1. I enjoyed your article and the questions you raised. I hope reviewers continue to review. I find them valuable and helpful when choosing books to buy, especially online.

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    2. Thank you for reading my post! And I'm so glad to hear that you find reviews valuable and helpful - that's good news for reviewers like me! :)

      ~Amber

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  3. Yeah, I wonder the same thing. *sigh*
    I like historical romances but not Amish, not at all. I guess every genre has its ebbs and flows?

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    1. Isn't that the truth? Remember Chick-Lit? That went down the tubes in a hurry!

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  4. I'm not an Amish reader, but I adore historicals. I am excited the Regency is coming into CBA more, but I would love to see more medievals. I love those!

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    1. Sherrinda, have you read the Brother Cadfael mysteries by Ellis Peters? Those are my favorite Medieval fiction books. :)

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  5. In the past year, I've been devouring historical romance. I had this mindset it would be boring and drab and the romance would be "too nice" but I was WRONG! It's becoming one of my favorites but I don't write it! In the last six months, I've read 2 Amish books just to be open to a new genre. One I didn't like at all. One I thought was good. Will it be one of my new genres to read? Nah, but I can say I read it, right? LOL

    Interesting post, Erica.

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    1. Wicked glad you decided to read historical romance. :D There are some really fine books out there.

      I have eclectic taste when it comes to fiction, reading mysteries, fantasy, thrillers, horror, and westerns, but my go-to is always historical romance. :)

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  6. I've never read an Amish book before. I've read some historicals (like yours, which are awesome!), but it's not my genre of choice.

    I'm more of a contemporary romance/women's fiction/mainstream kind of gal.

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    1. Awwww, thanks Katie! :)

      I'm reading fantasy at the moment, which isn't my normal reading fare, but I'm enjoying it very much.

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  7. I've ALWAYS been a historical romance reader, but I read all mainstream until 3 years ago. Now I read a mix of Christian and mainstream. I don't read Amish fiction. I DO read contemporary inspirational romance. And I've spent the last dozen years working my way through various classic literature. I just love to read!

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    1. Yay for readers! I find my tastes broadening since I got my Kindle. I just finished book two of the Game of Thrones series, and now I'm reading a sci-fi/fantasy thriller about black ops soldiers who work for the Egyptian pantheon. Yeah, I know, but it's kinda good. :D

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  8. Not so much. I've got a feeling women's fiction is just going to explode again. ;) Ka-pow!
    ~ Wendy

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    1. :D I hope it takes off, and I hope you're the one leading the trend!

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  9. I've always devoured historical romances. Not a fan of Amish fiction, though. In ABA, historical romance is still pretty hot, so I don't think it will go away for CBA readers. Rather, I think that historical romance will start focusing on time periods other than the 19th century. I agree with Sherrinda. I love fiction taking place in the Middle Ages!

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    1. Brandi, I think you're right. Historical Romance is a staple for publishers and readers, so I don't think it will fade out. Regencies are huge in the ABA, and we're starting to see some acceptance in the CBA, but those American Pioneers/Settlers/Cowboys are still the go-to, aren't they?

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  10. Interesting...

    I've never read Amish. There's nothing really pulling me to it, although it's probably great. I used to read historicals exclusively, but I've found that I also enjoy reading all the best-selling, mainstream titles as well. Historicals will always be my "home" though. I agree with the others...different time periods, cultures, etc. would be fun to read about too. But I hope my cowboys don't disappear completely! :)

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    1. Yay for cowboys! :D I think there will always be a market for those. They're so...sigh. Yep. Always be a market.

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  11. I really enjoy historical fiction rather than historical romance. But I write women's fiction, and I've had a hard time finding stuff I've liked in the past few years. It seems that historical fiction went big right about the time women's fiction really thinned out. So in my mind women's fiction is due. I'd love for it to be me. :)

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    1. Sally, you and Wendy will be the breakout women's fiction novelists that start the fireworks! :)

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  12. I read historical fiction here and there, only romance, and usually by the recommendation of someone else. Otherwise I read contemporary, but I've heard that historical is still the big thing right now. So I guess you're right, those readers are just spreading their love around!

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    1. I guess I am an example of spreading the love as I look at the titles on my bookshelves and Kindle. Such a rainbow of genres. :)

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  13. I'm not big on reading romances of any era, but where some romance accompanies an interesting plot and setting? That I enjoy. It's why I write what's loosely called romantic suspense. I've read a few Amish stories but found most rather shallow. I wonder if its appeal stems from a nostalgia for a simpler life.

    I do like some historicals, depending on the plot and the writing. On the whole, however, if I'm reading Christian fiction my preference is for a contemporary setting.

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    1. I love that there are so many different choices available to accommodate all our preferences. I do think you're right about Amish fiction appealing to the nostalgia of a simpler life. Though their lives are anything but easy!

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  14. Anonymous4:08 PM

    I like historical and contemporary fiction both. However, I say this with apologies to those who are big Amish fiction fans: I am almost horrified at how much Amish fiction is being published right now. I was over it a long time ago.

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    1. I don't know about it being over, but the sheer number of titles on the market means the four or five biggest names in Amish fiction will have spectacular sales, and the others will have to get by on lesser sales.

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  15. Great post!

    I started out really enjoying Amish fiction, but the market seems glutted with it. LOL, looks like many here have the same opinion.

    I'd LOVE to see women's fiction explode on the scene. There's not a wide selection of contemporary WF in CBA.

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    1. I wonder if the reason WF has hung back is because it is so often issue driven or deals with such heart-wrenching suffering. I don't like to cry when I read, and really well-written WF makes me bawl like a baby.

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  16. I am a reader and I love historical romance. I don't care for Amish fiction and I don't really get why it is so popular. I am a romance girl at heart so I do also enjoy romantic suspense and contemporary romance, so I hope the romance field in Christian fiction with continue and grow.

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