RARA-AVIS: Re: Librarians and the Hard Boiled

From: GN ( piesbook@execpc.com)
Date: 14 Jun 2001

> Interesting. I always assumed mysteries were among the best circulators
in libraries. Also, does this mean the publishers >define the library placement, not the librarians? Mark

No, publishers have no influence over where a library places a book, except in the definition of the genre that the book represents. For instance, if a publisher's press kit identifies it as a mystery, so will the common review journals (Library Journal, Booklist, Kirkus, Publisher's Weekly). Some libraries do shelve by type of genre, but others (like mine) have one long alphabetical arrangement to its fiction. If a publisher identifies a book as a particular genre, and a library uses separate areas for genre writing, then a book will be placed in that category by the library.

The problem is that hard boiled is not a genre. As we know, a hard boiled novel could end up in fiction, mystery, or even one of the other genres. However, there is no library I am aware of that has a hard boiled section. Hard boiled is an appeal (based on a style) for readers, and librarians do not shelve by appeal. There is a movement afoot to define books by appeal, but this is just in its infancy.

>Oh, they are. All genre fiction--mysteries, science fiction, westerns,
romances--circulate far more than "mainstream" fiction.
>And I'm quite certain that they gross, per capita, far more in the
bookstores, too. Jess.

In the meantime, mysteries are great circulators in a library. They just are not great sellers in the real world. So, libraries must scramble to get hardcovers early, before they are remaindered and unavailable. I was with an author recently who told me his first book's print run was reduced from 5000 to 2500 before release, then it went on to be nominated for an Edgar. By that time, the books were long gone. This is opposed to print runs of 100000 to 300000 for mainstream authors. You can see why the average genre mystery authors are not even considered mid-list in the publishing world.

>Frankly, I don't see any point in separating non-fiction from fiction and
adult from children in a library. Anthony.

Now that would be a hard boiled library!

Best, GWN Gary Warren Niebuhr P. I. E. S. (Private Investigator Entertainment Service) P. O. Box 341218 Milwaukee, WI 53234 piesbook@execpc.com http://www.execpc.com/~piesbook/piescatalog.html

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