Thursday, May 10, 2012
Death of Genre?
Charles Stross on the death of genre: The Death of Genre He begins with some thoughts about science fiction in blockbuster movies, the ongoing “conversation” among SF authors in print, and the marketing purpose of book cover illustrations. (They’re meant to grab casual readers; existing fans don’t need them.) His main point, however, is the effect of the shift of most book sales from physical bookstores to websites: Works of fiction no longer have to be tied down to a single generic category. Unlike in a physical shop with limited shelf space, in an online store a book can be classified under as many genres as it fits or in even narrower divisions shaped by an individual reader’s interests and the subtlety of the search engine. Ideally, a customer could ask for something like “vampire romances set in the seventeenth century with French characters” and get a list of relevant novels. It’s obvious that online sales, once perfected (we’re not there yet), will transfigure genre as a marketing model. But does that prospective change mean genre as a classification system for writers and readers will “die”? Is the fiction market actually destined to revert to the status quo of the nineteenth century, when popular magazines published many different types of stories within the same issues, and highly respected authors wrote both “realistic” and fantastic material with no damage to their reputations—only with the addition of fine-tuned search tools? Stross also points out a disadvantage, to the customer, of this brave new world: “We are in the position, as readers, of being stranded in an infinitely large bookstore.” How do we discern which among these millions of works are worth reading? Unless we stick only to authors we already know, which most of us wouldn't want to do. Do read Stross’s article. Do you think his predictions are valid? Margaret L. Carter Carter's Crypt
Posted by Margaret Carter at 9:00 AM