Baby boomer author Claude Nougat knows the next trend in publishing.
Almost since we reached middle age, advertisers and marketers have sold us short. They said we no longer represented the demographic they were looking for. Well, we’ve got news for them: baby boomers are the biggest, richest demographic in the world today. Author Claude Nougat already knew that, and has begun to promote books written specifically for, and about, baby boomers. She says, it’s the next phenomenon in publishing.
A new genre is born, a pendant to Young Adult literature, with one difference: Baby Boomer novels address “coming of old age” issues just as Young Adult novels are concerned with just coming of age. The word “age,” or “aging,” used to scare marketers intent on targeting the young, but no more. With a huge and growing market of some 70 million boomers — technically, all those born between 1946 and 1964 — Hollywood was the first to notice the change in its audience. Recent Baby Boomer movies, such as RED, Hope Springs, or The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, have all been smashing successes.
Yet most movies are based on books and perhaps, historically, the first book that led to a hugely successful movie, was Louis Begley’s About Schmidt in 2002. The movie was only loosely based on the novel, but Jack Nicholson’s star performance made it memorable. And it certainly opened the way to the new Baby Boomer genre.
Since then, many Baby Boomer novels have been produced without being categorized as such by publishing houses. Literary conferences still tend to focus on the classical genres (romance, thrillers, sci-fi etc.). If they happen to aim at an age group, then they talk about Young Adult literature. People in the industry appear not to fully realize that Young Adult has been around a long time and that its success is largely attributable to the boomers themselves. Some forty years ago, when the Young Adult craze started, boomers were just leaving their teens behind: it was the boomers, interested in their own transition to adulthood, who provided the natural market for Young Adult literature.
Now boomers have moved on. They are 50+, still vigorous and dynamic, and their interests have also changed. Fiction needs to follow them and provide protagonists who deal with issues of concern to baby boomers. Many writers have risen to the Baby Boomer challenge and things are starting to happen. A thread was started in September 2012 in the Kindle Fora for authors to list their Baby Boomer titles and the list is growing fast. In November, 2012, I created a dynamic group was created in Goodreads to discuss Baby Boomer literature.
Within just four weeks, the Goodreads Group had attracted 119 members, plus twice as many “friends,” and 31 Baby Boomer novels had been listed on its bookshelf, many from well-known, bestselling authors, like Anne R. Allen, Kathleen Valentine, Saffina Desforges, and Rachel Joyce. It has been running a poll with eight titles put up by its members, to select a Baby Boomer novel to read over the Holidays. This exercise will be repeated every month.
The purpose is not simply to provide more exposure to the Group’s novelists, but to give everyone, readers and writers alike, an opportunity to interact with the author and comment in a discussion thread. Everyone will have a chance to help in better defining what Baby Boomer literature should be all about and thus play an active role in launching it.
It is already clear that Baby Boomer literature is like Young Adult: It is a moving feast that can accommodate all kinds of sub-genres, from light comedy to tragedy, from romance to thrillers, and more.