Why Is Non-Fiction an Easier Sale?

Thank you so much for writing such an informative blog. I love it and visit your site at least once a week.

In an old post, you stated that nonfiction sells better than fiction. Can you elaborate as to why that is?

It’s consumer psychology.

For most people, a fiction book is generally a one-time read. Then it’s over. Done. Never to be picked up again. It’s a dose of feel good by escaping from reality fix. Some people feel guilty when they read fiction—like they’re wasting time that could be better used for saving the world or something. It’s hard to plunk down $24.95 for a hardback that you’re only going to read once, and then feel guilty about. Kind of like chocolate, but more expensive.

Non-fiction is like whole foods. It is enlightening, uplifting and healthy for the brain and the psyche. It is often read, re-read, highlighted with personal annotations in the margins, used as a reference for years—plus it impresses your friends when they see it on your bookshelf. Also, when it comes to self-help books, that same $24.95 might just change your life—making you prettier, thinner, healthier, richer, whatever.

Of course, IMHO, this is all total nonsense. Good fiction is like air—necessary for life. You should buy as many good fiction books as your budget allows. In fact, if you have to trim your budget, cut out cable or go on a diet.

And don’t feel guilty! Look at it this way: Life is stressful; everyone needs an escape.* Books are healthier than drugs and alcohol, and are much cheaper than therapy and Prozac! In fact, books should be tax deductible as a medical expense.

Hey, that would be a great addition to Obama’s Health Plan. I’m calling him right now. Who’s with me?

*P.S. Note my use of the semi-colon?

8 thoughts on “Why Is Non-Fiction an Easier Sale?”

  1. Ha ha. Loving the semi colon. Some fiction is so good though that it makes you read it over and over again. I have a collection of books that I read whenever I need a comfort read;* an instant pick me up of reading the brilliant and familiar. I have even had to purchase some titles again as I wore the books out. (Turns out reading in the bath is not good for a book's health.)
    *ps. I couldn't resist!

  2. Being an unrepentant Biblioholic, I read books I love over and over again.
    As you said, it is air necessary for life-YEA for the soul!

  3. I admit. My personal drugs of choice are fiction novels and chocolate. Not necessarily in that order, and not necessarily taken separately.

  4. Wonderful! I tend to read self-help books once, absorb what I need, and move on. But I escape over and over again with my favorite fiction! And chocolate!

  5. LOVE the semicolon. 🙂

    In the LDS market this concept is particularly true. There's still a bit of guilt factor that fiction is a waste of time, and that if I instead read something doctrinal from a GA or Sherri Dew or whoever that it's better use of my time and money.

    I've been told many times that my upcoming chocolate cookbook will likely all seven of my novels PUT TOGETHER.

    I have 2 reactions to that:

    1) COOOL!

    followed quickly by

    2) Are you KIDDING ME?

    As a novelist, that's disheartening. You spend so much time and effort on your story, world, characters, and (in my case, with historical fiction) research. Then a 5-month chocolate kitchen-testing binge does THAT much more?

  6. I wonder if the difference is that people buy the non-fiction because they think they ought to and it looks good sitting on their shelves or end tables, but they buy fiction to actually read.

  7. I think the reference aspect is a big factor. For example, you're much more apt to refer to a cook book or history book than fiction.

    Also, let's not forget that nonfiction doesn't just equate to dry material. I recently read "Chosen Faith, Chosen Land" by Jeannine Lauber about the Shakers in Maine and found it quite fascinating. I also tend to read a lot of memoirs by sports stars that are just as entertaining as fiction.

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