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Bad Horse

You shall love your crooked neighbor with your crooked heart. -- W. H. Auden

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Defining the readers of each genre · 4:13am May 13th, 2016

I refer everyone who liked my recent posts on mysteries, or bookplayer's recent post on fantasy, to Catalysts Cradle's excellent post Defining the readers of each genre. He downloaded data from interviewing 2273 readers about their reading habits, then computed correlations and clusters. For instance, mystery, westerns, crime stories, & thrillers all cluster together, and this is because they're all read by old people. Poetry is now read almost entirely by young people. Very interesting stuff. I've added it to my blog index under "genres".

I quibble with his statement that a genre is defined by its readers. How you define a genre depends on what you want to do. To a bookseller, genre is defined by readers, because to a bookseller, "genre" means "a bookshelf where I can put things so that average readers will know where to find them." To an editor, genre is partly defined by her ideological and aesthetic preferences. To a writer, who must satisfy both readers and editors, genre must be a mix of these things.

Report Bad Horse · 472 views · #genre #data #nerd
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Comments ( 8 )

Thanks for the shout out! I agree that readership does not define everything about a genre, but it's definitely a useful piece of information. Demographic analysis isn't a substitute for the type of in depth analysis you did, but it's nice that both types of analyses found similar connections between mysteries and westerns.

I'm trying to figure out what the mix of Sci-fi/fantasy/political/educational/weird would be revealed if I went into my basement and spent an entire day scanning the barcodes of my book collection. I know there'd be a lot of duplicates. I think I have three copies of "Hour of the Octopus."

Are there any superhero movies made anymore targeted at kids starring the DC or Marvel characters?

Is that because kids are not a good audience for superhero comics now, or because of choices made by those making them now?

It seems to me that readership is reactive rather than proactive; if you're trying to figure out who is reading something now, that tells you less about intrinsic appeal and more about the present condition.


It would probably show that you own books read by a child, a teenager and an adult. A marketer would count you as three people.

3941628 If you bought a lot of them from Amazon, I suspect seeing what they recommend for you would be a good proxy for that kind of analysis.

3942019 3941786 Actually, most of them I bought by walking into what we old people used to call a 'Bookstore' and finding them on the shelf and paying for them at the counter with this quaint paper substance we used to use before credit cards. (Yeah, I feel old) Then we have used book stores, garage sales, and the Topeka Public Library has a book sale every year where our limit was "Only whatever we can carry in the paper sacks provided."

Yeah, picture that for a moment. One year we brought my Radio Flyer wagon. We abused the "Last day bag sale" something fierce. When the kids in the back seat complained "We don't have any place to put our feet" we would respond, "Don't make us choose."


One year we brought my Radio Flyer wagon.

Wow, you are old. :trollestia:

3942275 Owned it since back when they were made out of metal instead of today's plastic. When we had twins, we found a *very* useful purpose for the wagon. It would slip into the side of the van with a little space to spare after we had loaded the girls. Then when we went shopping, we would pull out the wagon, set the two car seats in it, and tow the whole thing behind us when we went into the store. We could (well, I) pull the wagon and push a shopping cart at the same time, because once you put two car seats into a shopping cart, there's no space for anything else. If we had used a stroller in winter, we would have been pulling the warm kids out of a warm car seat and putting them in a cold stroller, then reversing the process when returning to the freezing car.

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