Research Finds Severe Lack of Male Readers for Books Written by Women

A new study commissioned by the Women’s Prize Trust has found men significantly favor reading books authored by men over those written by women.

Using data from Nielsen BookData’s consumer research, the study analyzed a sample of nearly 54,000 book purchases in 2023. The analysis showed that while women are essentially just as likely to read books authored by women or men, male readers skew significantly towards books written by men. For the top 20 bestselling women fiction writers in the United Kingdom, less than 20 percent were purchased by men. In comparison, women represented 44 percent of book sales for the United Kingdom’s top 20 male fiction writers.

When men did choose to buy books by women authors, they were more likely to buy what are considered “classics” over contemporary works. The only woman author in the study whose books were primarily purchased by male readers in 2023 was Harper Lee, author of the seminal novel To Kill a Mocking Bird. On the other hand, seven of the top 20 best selling male authors in the United Kingdom authored books predominately bought by women.

In an effort to close this gender gap, the Women’s Prize Trust has conducted an ongoing initiative, Men Reading Women, geared towards introducing male readers to novels authored by women. The campaign has given various male celebrities and industry leaders a platform to advocate for women-written books. Additionally, the organization issues two annual awards to recognize excellent women writers in fiction and nonfiction, respectively.

Filed Under: Gender GapResearch/Study

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