I was interested to read a column in the trade press last week by David Hepworth, the former Whistle Test presenter who is now better known as an author and publisher. Hepworth was complaining that most men in the UK only read one book per year, usually a thriller or a sports biography which they read on the beach during their summer holiday.
While Hepworth had his tongue in his cheek, there is little doubt that he was raising a valid point. If you look at the shelves in any bookshop you can’t help but notice that there are far more books aimed at women than there are targeted at men. Publishers are not stupid; they know what sells.
This is borne out by my own experience as a member of a book group which meets once a month to talk about crime novels. Of the dozen plus people who come along to our gatherings there are only two other males. Many men, for reasons that nobody seems to be able to satisfactorily explain, still seem convinced that reading a book is a “girly” thing to do
The same logic applies to magazines. The women’s magazine market is huge, featuring a seemingly inexhaustible number of weekly and monthly titles aimed at females of all ages and income groups. The National Readership Survey shows that 41 per cent of all UK adults buy a women’s monthly magazine, with 30 per cent buying a women’s weekly.
In contrast, the men’s magazine sector contains just a handful of upmarket glossy monthlies with modest circulations, all seemingly aimed at metrosexuals under the age of 35. With the unlamented demise of the various lad’s mags titles which emerged in the 1990s, it would seem that magazine publishers have yet to find a format which will encourage men to read.
I am proud to be a print junkie, I read newspapers, books and magazines on a daily basis. I feel sad that those men who don’t read regularly for pleasure are missing out on so much.