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“Popular Fiction”

Here’s an about the myths of popularity in fiction. It’s long but worth a read. That question popular fiction vs. literary fiction comes up again. I know publishers want to make the most profits out of the books, but the whole talk of what is popular and what makes a book popular is rather irrelevant. I don’t think there’s a formula to commercial success, but books that are short on literary elements, like mysteries and thrillers, tend to be more popular in the sense that they are more likely to be picked up and finished promptly. That said, to compare “popular fiction” with literary fiction is unfair and irrelevant, because the non-literary genre pretty much encompasses everything that literary fiction is not. There’s no competition.

Popularity is a myth when it comes to books. To speak of a specific genre is not practical. I can’t say for other readers, but I didn’t buy into any of the Gone Girl doubles after I finished Gone Girl. This speaks the fact that despite the regular conflation of genre fiction witch popular fiction, most genre fiction is not popular at all. What’s popular is whatever you want it to be. Also too often it seems readers’ interest in “popular books” is actually only an interest in books that are popular in the styles they like. So if the focus in the industry is to boost sales and encourage commercial success, it would hurt literature. Why? Because sales have essentially no relation to quality. One way to crack the homogeneity of “popular books” is to read out of our comfort zone and peruse literature on a niche, exploring books from all genres from the world.