Capital Crime has released new research which asked readers about their reading habits and perception of the industry, revealing female readers have been criticised for their book choices for being too commercial or trashy, while a majority of readers surveyed feel there is a "snobbery" in how the publishing industry picks and promotes certain books.
The survey, of 1,073 people found that 72% of people who read a few times a week feel there is snobbery in how the publishing industry picks and promotes certain books. The poll also found that 65% of people prefer commercial fiction over literary fiction and 88% of people think that literary festivals should include more commercial fiction authors in their programmes.
Nearly two-fifths (38%) of women said they have been criticised for their book choices being too commercial or trashy. Only 32% of men had suffered similar criticism.
When it comes to book awards, 47% of those surveyed said they are unlikely to pick a book based on whether it has won or been shortlisted for a big literary award, agreeing with the statement that "shortlisted books rarely appeal to me". By contrast, 34% said they are very likely to choose a book based on its award credentials saying "it's a stamp of quality".
The poll also found that 20% of people surveyed have never used a library and 40% shop for their books on Amazon.
Adam Hamdy, author, screenwriter and one of the organisers of the Capital Crime Festival, who conducted the research, said: “These statistics were shocking. Reading is one of Britain’s most loved hobbies and the literary industry is making people feel bad for their book choices. It’s wrong. We at Capital Crime want to celebrate the joy of reading. Whatever you want to read. There should be no judgement or hierarchy in the type of books or authors you like reading. Just the act of reading is a joy.”
David Headley, agent and bookseller and co-organiser of Capital Crime, added: “We believe everyone should enjoy reading without the fear of shame or judgement over their book choices. Whether it be by the literary industry – who are being perceived to only promote certain authors and shun commercial fiction. Or those unwelcome comments people make about your reading choice on your commute. We should all be doing everything we can to encourage people to read. We want people to use a book to switch off and become engrossed in another world – without being judged for their choice of title or author.”
The survey comes ahead of the inaugural Capital Crime Festival which is due to take place from 26th to 28th September at the Connaught Rooms in London. Kate Atkinson, Robert Harris, David Baldacci, Ian Rankin and Ann Cleeves are among the names on the line-up.