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The Genre Explosion: How eBooks have given niche genres a second chance
by Jenni Penson
The Genre Explosion: How eBooks Have Given Niche Genres a Second Chance
The book publishing industry, and in fact books in general, have had somewhat of a bumpy ride over the past few years. There have been two distinct sides to this, with many proclaiming the rise of e-readers spelling certain doom for printed books, along with the explosion of interest in devices such as the Kindle and Kobo. But neither has really ‘won’; in fact, this was never really a battle between print and digital, it was only an evolution of the industry. And with this evolution has come renewed interest in a whole host of genres. Classics such as true crime and thrillers are still all the rage in print and e-book form, but there is now a wider selection thanks to online marketplaces. Let’s look at this phenomenon in more detail.
How digital opens new (and old) doors
For many years, the barrier to entry for the publishing industry was simply too high for many to tackle. You either had to be seriously talented or seriously lucky – but more often than not a combination of the two. With digital publishing and self-media, quite literally anyone is free to publish their work to online marketplaces such as Amazon and iBooks. This is a double-edged sword, of course, but it’s still great news for readers. The reason? Well, previously niche genres have had to rely on small publishing houses to have a chance of seeing a shop bookshelf. Online book shops which sell e-books allow readers and authors to gain access to any niche genre they can imagine.
The role of e-books in bibliotherapy
One good example of a genre that’s benefited from e-books and digital publishing is self-help. Because there is sometimes a stigma attached to books like this or, to put it another way, because people may not want others to know what they’re reading, self-help books were often kept at home. With digital books, anyone can read any book they like anywhere in total privacy. For example, there are many great titles that help people with addiction problems, but these may not have been as widely read without the accessibility of digital publishing. Of course, there is plenty of freely available information on issues such as alcohol abuse, but sometimes a book by an expert on the topic can be very comforting and helpful for people suffering in this way. E-books can now claim their rightful place as a form of bibliotherapy, helping with many issues ranging from alcoholism to anxiety and depression.
Resurgence of niche genres
Alongside the health benefits that digital publishing can pave the way for, there are also many fiction genres which are getting a seeming second chance. Examples include quite general but still niche sub-genres like the space opera to highly specific technical manuals that may only be read by a handful of people. The great thing about many of these titles released by digital routes is that they aren’t released purely for financial gain, many are released based on the passion of the author alone. This kind of feeling actually comes through in much of the work, and there are plenty of hidden self-published gems. Of course, the reverse is also true – so you need to be careful and always read the reviews.
Expanding horizons for readers
Another key aspect of digital publishing is that the price is often much lower than print media – and there are always free titles available for people to try out. This is a great thing for everyone because it encourages them to explore genres which they may never have picked up before had they had to shell out for it. In the past people have had to take a risk with their money in order to try out a book (or get themselves to a library, of course), but with Kindles and Kobos on hand, it’s never been easier to find a new favourite book or genre.
So have you explored the world of digital publishing just yet? If not, what are you waiting for? An e-reader is the perfect accompaniment to printed books, and there’s no reason not to enjoy both. Mix it up, try something new, and broaden your literary horizons today.