Friday, November 2, 2012

[Link] Return to the Masculine: The Reemergence of Men's Pulp Fiction in the Age of eBooks

by Keith Rawson

Needless to say, it’s been a long road in trying to figure out what exactly will make a man pick up a book. For the better part of a century, publishing has been scratching their collective heads wondering what the Average Joe likes to read. Was it action and adventure? Was it hard men and women in peril? Was it cowboys and Indians? Was it sports? Was it a weird combo of them all? And during that time, more than a few memorable series characters were created to attract men to reading: Doc Savage, Mike Shayne, Shell Scott, Remo Williams (The Destroyer), Mack Bolan (The Executioner, and its spin-off series, Phoenix Force), Richard Camelion (The Death Merchant), and Nick Carter (Killmaster), just to name a few. But by the mid-nineties (when sales statistics were being gathered and ruthlessly acted upon) the men’s action adventure novel more or less faded from existence.

Now we fast-forward to the here and now, and yes, sales statistics are still being ruthlessly acted upon and the big six still aren’t touching men’s adventure stories with a ten foot poll. But with it being the here and now, who the fuck needs the big six when you can do it yourself, or go through a publisher who has zero problem with taking risks in the age of eBooks?

Introducing Pulp 2.0:

Yes, almost all of the characters I mentioned above were created, for the most part, to attract male readers. But let’s face facts; the books of pulp 2.0 aren’t exclusively geared towards men anymore. (And also, did these books really need to be?) They use the same tropes of series characters/shared universes, the same balls to the wall action, the same tightly written plots, same slim length (most Pulp 2.0 novels are in the 175-to-200-page range) and are meant to be read in one or two sittings, which, as far as I’m concerned, is the perfect length for eReaders. The biggest difference you’ll notice between the new pulp and men’s adventure of old is that none of the new creators even remotely adhere to a single genre.  

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