Looking Forward to Another Great Year in Books

A few weeks ago, Jo and I returned from our trip to Ontario. Each year, we attend a week of meetings with Canadian publishers who call Toronto home, which is the majority of larger publishing houses in Canada. I truly see this week as one of the highlights of my job because I get a behind-the-scenes opportunity to learn about the stellar line-ups that publishers have to offer. Specific things that always pop out at me on this trip are the recurring trends in the book world.

Not surprisingly, mysteries penned by international authors are another popular genre. We are all familiar with the best-selling mystery writers in our country, as well as our neighbours to the south. However, after the success of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series, publishers have been scouring rights fairs looking for the next big writer to introduce to Canadians. Superstars like Gail Bowen, Michael Connelly, Louise Penny and Peter Robinson are staples of our mystery scene, but their positions on the top of our best-seller lists are constantly threatened by international writers vying for their spots in our crime-loving hearts. This doesn’t even take into account the debut writers that are constantly sprouting up across our great country, also eager to get their name on the crime-writing map.

Adult books with child narrators are also popping up everywhere, most likely due to the enormous success of Emma Donoghue’s Room. Many readers find this tedious to read due to the limited vocabulary, however when done right, this strategy offers an alternative and fruitful perspective on the other characters in the story. The “zany family” theme can also be lumped into this trend, as the child’s story is typically informed by their home life, usually casting light on their family’s dysfunction and strange habits.

The above is my long-winded way of pointing out that trends in literature typically last a few years, which has become more and more obvious to me through my four years at WordFest. Publishers are smart to capitalize on this oddity because the guaranteed sell-through rate of these popular subjects inevitably funds the experimental books that are also acquired and promoted. So whether it is a stunning literary debut by an up-and-coming novelist, the latest and greatest in mystery land, or a reminder that every family is just as weird is yours, 2012 promises to be another good year for reading.


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