Bestseller Trends Part I: Women


In which we revisit those bestseller lists, and I wonder if I should have drawn some nice bunny rabbits to make them prettier*

2012 Bestseller Genres

Another pattern is evident from the 2012 bestseller list.

Of the top 15, there were only 3 men, and one of those was Tolkien, who had already been dead for some time. Despite Lee Child, Stephen King et al still giving it welly, the top blockbusters were mostly written by women.

Is this because women read more, or because they’re writing more popular books? I don’t know. (But when I get my Omniscience Badge, I’ll be declaring on everything.)

In 2003, there were only 3 women in the top 15. It took Patricia Cornwell and Danielle Steele to hold up the banner for women yet again, and just one newbie – Alice Sebold – managed to crack the list.

Sisters are doin’ it for themselves, etc.

It’s been apparent for a little longer in pop music – women are running away with the prizes and the money in the last few years, with One Direction looking like the boys’ last and only hope. It’s just beginning to happen in film and TV, thanks almost entirely to Bridesmaids and Lena Dunham’s Girls. Women are, like, So Hot Right Now?

I can see Mr Big TV Executive’s office – having just got the memo, figuratively and literally – he’s on a 25-year-old landline phone yelling into the receiver “Get me a woman! Now! One of those ones who writes shit! You know, about women being disgusting and hating themselves! And make her funny, goddammit! You should probably look for one who’s a bit fat!”


So women appear to be monopolising book sales. But, because 2012 bestsellers were completely overshadowed by one breakout genre – Sex with a bit of Romance (i.e. erotica written by women, for women), it could mean a temporary skew in the numbers. So let’s look at 2011 instead, and see if the growing popularity of women was evident then.

2011 Bestseller Genres & Authors

Interesting. Looks pretty equal, doesn’t it? 7 out of the top selling 15 books of 2011 were written by women.

But 1 name also repeats. 3 of the men were all Stieg Larsson, whose posthumous fame was the major literary story grabbing all the headlines until 50 shades put everything else in the – well, darker hue of a similar colour. Anyhoo, Stieg’s success story was still going strong since his Millennium Trilogy first hit the New York Times Bestseller list in August 2009.

The final headcount tally on the list is 7 ladies to 6 men of the gentle persuasion. More importantly, the data backs up my argument, which as we all know is the only important thing.

*I was joking there. I can’t draw bunny rabbits. I can do a passable googley eye though.

  3 comments for “Bestseller Trends Part I: Women

  1. carolannwrites
    July 22, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    Not to mention that it was Stieg’s girlfriend who published his books for him after he died… and who claims to have had a hand in editing most of his work!


    • July 22, 2013 at 8:06 pm

      I’d forgotten that – completely true. But we haven’t seen her name in 95% of the headlines….


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