During a recent trip to one of our local Barnes&Nobles, I noticed what seems to be a significant decline in their science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal romance offerings. Usually, a large section of the bookstore is devoted to these subjects. Now those sections have shrunk appreciably to a few aisles.

I found that a bit alarming, since I write science fiction, space opera, and related genres. So I’m always interested in what exactly is currently being published. Until recently, I had noticed a preponderance of reprints: old classics by such authors as Asimov, Clarke, Bova, et al. On this trip, however, I didn’t see as many reprints. I also noticed a lack of books based on TV’s Babylon 5 and fewer Star Trek titles. The Twilight books were almost completely lacking.

So I can’t help but wonder what’s going on. Why have these popular genres and subjects been downsized while others, such as Romance, are burgeoning? It could simply be that demand for Romance is greater than that for SF, which is definitely a niche that isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Maybe the sale of books in general has suffered because of the downturn in the economy. Or perhaps, after a long spell of publishers reprinting classics, readers are looking for something new and different. I really don’t have the answer.

But I suspect that the current trend may be due to the availability of SF&F books online. Following the path of least resistance and seeking relief for their wallets, many readers have decided to shop online. Who could blame them? I shop online myself, and my books are available online. But given my druthers, I prefer the experience of shopping in a bookstore!

Any ideas, comments to offer? Keep on reading,

MRTighe

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