We’re halfway through the year and it’s time to reflect on our reading habits. If there’s one thing we know for sure – Australians love reading. All those dire predictions about the book industry fell on deaf ears. We were all way too busy reading to listen. Not only do we love reading, but we also love talking about books. Engagement within the Better Reading community is higher than ever. We watch as you comment, make suggestions, critique, give feedback and invite your friends to join in conversations.
In 2018, book sales worldwide increased. In Australia, Nielsen BookScan has seen a 30 percent jump in local authors featured in the top 25 fiction titles in the past two years.
We’ve seen the love our BR community has shown local authors such as Trent Dalton, Holly Ringland, Christian White and Dervla McTiernan. Not only are these authors all local, but they all experienced phenomenal success with their debut novels.
Once upon a time in Australian publishing, to make it as a writer you had to already have a profile. Writers had to work hard to establish a following, often having to publish five or more novels before reaping any rewards or gaining any acknowledgment. Books were very much judged by the name of the person behind the pen, but this isn’t so much the case today.
The Australian literary scene has changed a great deal in the past few years, with new (and welcome) trends emerging. We’ve seen female authors and characters thrive, fewer male gatekeepers in the industry, and novels that are much more diverse and experimental. And of course, there’s the success of the debut.
This has never been more evident than on the 2019 Australian Book Industry Awards shortlist. All five titles shortlisted for the General Fiction Book of the Year category were also on the Better Reading Top 100, and written by first-time authors.
So what else are you reading?
The 2016 Australia Council’s report, Reading the Reader: A Survey of Australian Reading Habits found that ‘nine in ten Australians enjoy reading for interest or pleasure and seven in ten would like to spend more time reading books’. It also found that readers are embracing crime and mystery genres.
We’ve certainly found that to be true. The engagement with our crime and thriller authors is high. Other definite trends are that readers are embracing women writers more, and that books that are suitable for book clubs are big sellers. Give a reader a twist or a topic to discuss and they’ll add wine and friends with that.
Earlier this year ArtsHub reported that 2018 was the year Aussies embraced non-fiction, with personal development the largest genre, overtaking both food and drink and biographies and autobiographies. Readers also loved homegrown fiction. In fact, by early this year a number of Australian authors were selling as well as or better than their overseas counterparts.
We’re halfway through the year, and you really do help shape the trends, the bestsellers and the books that will be published in the future. What are you reading now?