Is the Novel Gravely Ill?

Fiction is Down, Non-Fiction is Up. Is the Novel Gravely Ill? | 2-Minute Tips for Writers

In response to his obituary printed in a US newspaper whilst traveling to London, Mark Twain famously wrote in reply, “The report of my death was an exaggeration.”

Likewise, the printed book was proclaimed dead at the event of ebooks and the digital revolution. Again, all too prematurely.

Now it seems that the fiction novel is likewise proclaimed to be on its deathbed. But is this also premature?

Books don’t just compete with other books; they also compete with DVDs, TV, YouTube, computer games, and now streaming channels such as Netflix and Amazon.

A recent article by Alison Flood in the Guardian, Death of the novel is greatly exaggerated, say UK booksellers, highlighted the contrary plights of fiction and non-fiction titles.

In the UK recently, The Publishers Association’s yearbook suggested fiction sales dropped in physical formats in 2018, down 7%. This fall was not offset by a 4% rise in digital fiction sales, with overall fiction sales down 3%.

Non-fiction sales, however, rose 1% in 2018, which has grown 30% in the past 5 years.

It seems that the hottest authors in demand at the moment are those non-fiction writers who can write well, authors that can delve deeply into the human heart and tell us how we tick.

So is the death of fiction nigh? Or is it just another story?


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Dr. Scott Zarcinas
Director, DoctorZed Publishing

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