Monday, March 4, 2013

Discussion Post: Genres, Genres, Everywhere

My husband and I were on our way home tonight from seeing Warm Bodies and we got into a discussion on what genre the movie was.  (P.S. Great movie- go check it out.) I told him that it could be classified as horror, dystopian and a bit of romance.  He informed me that it was obviously a science fiction story but it was marketed towards a different group of watchers (or reader- because we all know that it was a book before it was a movie) and that is the reason why they classify it was a zombie romance story.  His argument was that the zombies got to be that way due to some scientific change in their body.  My argument was that while that may be the case this wasn't the main focus of the story.  The main focus was how the society had changed so drastically and also the relationship between R and Julie. 

That really got me thinking about genres and how we classify what we read into these categories.   It also got me thinking- do publishers market books as a particular genre based on who will most likely buy the books?

One example that really sticks out is the Across the Universe series by Beth Revis.  In my mind these books have a strong science fiction element to them.  They are in space, they talk about being cryogenically frozen and they are on a voyage to a new planet.  Now the books do have a bit of romance in them between Elder and Amy but I would argue that the main plot of the book is geared towards the space travel and planet exploration.  Now, when Across the Universe and A Million Suns were first published they had some beautiful covers.

While I love, love, LOVE these covers I would say the main focus of the covers are romantic, especially for the first cover.  This was great because it drew in a large group of woman and teen girls to read these books.  Now I know this going to sound like over generalizing, and I don’t want to come off as sexist but in my opinion science fiction is a genre that attracts more male readers than female readers.  That is not to say that girls/women don’t read science fiction because I know that is not true considering that I am one of those said women.   I do think though that the covers on these novels brought in some readers who otherwise may not picked these books up.  Cue cover change:

Recently the publishers have changed the covers for this series and while I couldn’t be any more annoyed by these covers I can see why they did so from a marketing perspective.  The new covers have a very sci-fi feel to them and I am fairly certain that this will draw in more male readers.  Keep in mind this is the exact same novel with the same story and while one cover markets towards a more romance genre the other markets towards a more sci-fi genre. 

Sidebar: While this discussion post is not about cover changes, can I just say that I am more than a little irritated by publishers who change their covers mid-way through a series.  Please finish the series off with matching covers and go with a cover change once I have collected all the matching covers and they look beautiful on my shelf.  End Rant.

How much of our reading habits are engrained in what genre the book is marketed as?  I know that while I try to be open to everything when it comes to reading, I tend not to read as many fantasy novels as I do other genres.  I have read some fantasy in the past and I have quite enjoyed some of them (Graceling series by Kristin Cashore, Stormlord series by Glenda Larke) but it is not a genre that I gravitate towards.  I wonder if some of these novels were marketed in a different way would I be more apt to pick them up at the book store?  My gut tells me that the answer is yes. 

My question for you is how important is genre when you are picking out a book?  Also, how do you pick which genre a book falls under when it can so obviously be put into more than category? 

I’d love to hear what you think on the topic so please leave a comment down below. 

Happy Reading!



  1. I usually stick to certain genres when choosing books, such as dystopian novels and vampire novels. One the other hand, I also read just about anything if it sounds interesting, but a cover is what can really drag me in. When putting my genre category on my book reviews I usually end up listing multiple ones because it is too hard to choose.

    Side note: Yes, cover changes midway through a series is very frustrating.

  2. I always say that I read any general, but I've actually realized I tend to shy away from some! I don't read very much high fantasy, or historical! (Although I looooove history so the latter I really need to fix) It's hard to switch genres when you know there's SO MANY great books you haven't even gotten to yet!