So, I was in Target the other day getting stuff for the new house (the reason I have been away from the blog for a couple of months) and I happened to wander from the hardware aisle down to the movies and books section as I am known to do. I usually browse quickly through the titles, imagining a DVD collection to rival the local Blockbuster or a library with a need of its own librarian. As I looked through the books I began to notice that these aren't meant for male readers. Now I'm not above reading The Bell Jar or The Dogs of Babel (a book, that if you have not read it, you must do everything in your power to go get); but these books are not targeted toward guys. If given the option of reading The Time Traveler's Wife and watching Kelly's Heroes, the typical dude is going to cozy up with Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas and Don Rickles. But what do you expect? I counted maybe ten books that the average guy would read, while there was more than 150 for female readers.
I know that women read more than men, but they are catered to more. Marketing is geared toward women, the types of books published lean toward the typical female taste in stories and the books pushed by bookstores and other sellers are stereotypically meant for women. There are Guy Books out there, but usually one has to hunt for them. Gischler's Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse is a great example of a Guy Book: violence, survival and hot chicks. But you're not going to find that book as you're strolling through Target shopping for a shower curtain, or at the local Wal-Mart making fun of nature's mistakes who roam the aisles there, or even shelved in the small magazine section of the grocery store. No, you have to specifically drive to a bookstore and search through the books to find it; and the typical guy doesn't like to shop just to shop.
Guys will read if they find something they like, but usually that book will fall into their hands through a series of events that rival a Rube Goldberg nightmare. When I worked in a paper mill during the summers while in college, I would find copies of The Executioner books in various places (also a lot of porn mags). These books seemed to go from one worker to another. Mack Bolan kept me company through some long hours of nothing to do. And I, like my fellow reader before me, would leave the book wherever I happened to finish it so the next worker would have the chance to read it.
I think publishers and book sellers need to take a chance on male readers, or more of a chance than the half-ass effort they do now. The buyers employed by Target should find some of these Guy Books and push them onto the floor where they will catch the eye of a dude walking pass the book section (a section they usually avoid like ladies lingerie... well, most men at least). Or maybe start a book section in Home Depot or Lowe's. I think there is a market out there that's being ignored, but I hope someone somewhere will tap into it.