Thursday, June 28, 2007

He Reads ... She Reads: The Booklist Adult Books Readers Advisory Forum

On Sunday at the American Library Association, I spent the entire day attending readers' advisory programs. I capped the day with He Reads ... She Reads: The Booklist Adult Books Readers' Advisory Forum, a sort of Point Counterpoint formatted discussion between David Wright of Seattle Public Library and Katie Mediatore of Kansas City Public Library, Missouri.

David went first. Through a series of humorous slides, he let the audience know that the readers that concerned him where not "men" but "guys." Serious reading men may not differ so much from women in their reading, but guys have their own desires. Here is what studies show about guys:

  • Men read less than women.
  • Men value reading less than women.
  • Men read less fiction/literature.
  • Men read more factual material.
  • Men read more newspapers and magazines.
  • Men read more science fiction.
  • Men are not interested in the lives of women.
  • Men who read have narrower tastes.
  • Men are more likely to read everything in a series.
  • Men do not want to talk about the books they read.

When Katie talked about women, the points were mostly the reverse of the list above. She did also say:

  • Women do not care whether a man or woman wrote a book, while men often only consider books written by other men.
  • Women will stick with a book longer before deciding not to finish a book.
  • Women are more likely to join book clubs.
  • Women consider romance novels like chocolates or massage - they are treats to read.

Throughout the program, both speakers used fake book jackets for laughs. (There must be a pulp fiction book jacket generator on the web, but I have not found it yet.) These were funny and sometimes almost crude, but they really supported the discussion. David also kept the crowd jumping with pulp fiction giveaways. About half the audience left with a paperback book.

One of the genres that got a lot of discussion was westerns. Though many libraries do not even collect them any more, David said they are very popular with guys. Seattle loans tons of them. He said it was important to keep up with the new series and to buy all the titles, as those guys who want to read them want to read them all.

Katie said that many women really like bloody suspense titles. She recommended the books of T. Greenwood for women.

David said that pulp fiction that comes in series can be treated as periodicals. Subscribe to the series. Get lots of copies. Do not bother cataloguing them.

In the questions period at the end, Katie said that if you are serious about readers' advisory, you approach clients to offer your service. You can not lay back and wait for someone to ask. You also have to use displays, book marks, and other marketing ploys continuously.

Another long discussion arose from the audience about librarians' spouses who bought books instead of checking them out from libraries, especially in regard to pulp fiction. Some of these spouses, especially the guys, want to own all the books in a series so they will have something they like to read over and over. Others fear overdues. Many of the librarians in attendance said they had spouses and friends who would not use the library because they hate having to have books back at a specific time.


BB-Idaho said...

Well that explains. A couple days back, I grabbed the book I've been reading and headed out to a lawn chair in the shade. Settled back and opened a Nora Roberts. I had grabbed my wife's book, rather than
the microbiology tome I've been struggling with the last two weeks.
As I brought her book back, my wife said I had a shocked and dismayed look. :)

Shannon said...

My husband is also a periodical fan. We subscribe to many at home because he likes to keep them and revisit their content! When we moved into our new house we literally had boxes of magazines that he couldn't bear to part with.....even at the expense of backbreaking work to move them.

My husband reads a rich variety of novels, but we do have to wait for a relative to ship or send boxes of them over from Greece. Reading literature in his native language is one way he maintains ties to his culture, and American libraries do not have developed collection of current literature in Greek.

Here he does tend to stick to non-fiction and Bio more. If he encounters a novel that he likes he can be like me, burn the midnight oil to finish it.

I think men also (generally) spend less time browsing. He was also thrilled to find out our home library had a book drop. The "fast and furious" library user!

Maggie said...

Oh, Rick, I'm happy to say my hubby is n/a to all the men stereotyped by David except for the last one. He doesn't like to talk about books. I know a book is damn good when he mentions that I should read it, and it is always fiction.

A funny thing about our book relationship, he will only read the non-fiction I grab or suggest for him. He isn't the one seeking out NF.

You know, I would love to see RA written on the reading habits of married couples.