Book Targeting Gone Wild

Posted on August 29, 2006

The New York Times takes a look at Hyperion's new anti-chick lit imprint, which is aimed at women aged 35 and up.

Called Voice, the imprint, which will publish its first title in April, is the brainchild of Ellen Archer, Hyperion's publisher, and Pamela G. Dorman, a 19-year veteran of Viking. It will be just one of a number of new imprints aimed at female readers: Warner Books already has a women's imprint called 5 Spot and in the fall is starting the Springboard Press, for baby boomers, with a large portion of its titles catering to female readers.

Voice is specifically focusing on women from their mid-30's and older and will have a resolutely anti-chick-lit bent, said its founders. Ms. Archer said she wanted to start Voice, in part, to publish books that addressed issues she felt were largely ignored by the news media. "I felt that I, as a 44-year-old woman, working, married and a mother, did not see my life reflected in any of the media stories," she said, referring to newspaper and magazine articles chronicling the battles between working and stay-at-home mothers and the choices that educated women were making to quit their careers to raise families. "I wanted to create a demographic of women in their mid-30's to later that could better illustrate the landscape of a woman's life."

Next month, Hyperion's sales force will begin marketing five titles to booksellers, starting with The Feminine Mistake by Leslie Bennetts, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair magazine. In it, Ms. Bennetts argues that women who "opt out" of careers to raise children forfeit the financial, intellectual, emotional and even medical benefits of working outside the home.

We've never seen anything like the targeting that's going on in today's publishing world. Apparently, Americans are so rigid in their reading tastes that they're not going to read something that isn't targeted at their exact demographic. Even romance titles all have subgenres: time travel, historical, paranormal, paranormal action, contemporary romantic suspense, you name it. The whole thing is giving us a headache.

On the other hand, this new targeting makes it very unlikely that you'll pick up a book at the bookstore that you don't want to really read. All you have to do now is look at the spine. And if it doesn't say "time traveling vampire romance rated PG-13" or "futuristic spy thriller with female protagonist and not too much hanky panky" well then, you know you're just not going to like it.

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