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Baby Boomer Knows The Next Trend in Publishing

December 21, 2012
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A Hook in the SkyOur guest blog post is by Claude Nougat author of several books including A Hook in the Sky.

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.

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8 Responses to Baby Boomer Knows The Next Trend in Publishing

  1. December 21, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    Claude, Such a well-thought out and presented article. I have just tweeted, FBed, LinkedIned and Google+ed it with the caption ‘A new genre is rare indeed. This is one. And it’s going to be big!’ — because that’s exactly what it is.
    Regards
    Alana Woods

  2. December 22, 2012 at 8:41 am

    I’m very happy that the word about boomer literature is spreading out and catching on fast, and I am very grateful to Digital Book Today for picking this up!

    Since I wrote that article (just 4 days ago) the number of members in our Goodreads Group discussing BB novels has risen to 129 and we have 35 BB book titles on the Group’s Bookshelf. Anyone looking for a good BB read at Christmas to give the favorite boomer in your life (or if you’re a boomer, give it to yourself!) should check this list. And if you’re a writer who’s published a BB novel, join the Group and list your title. Here’s the link: http://www.goodreads/group/show/81261-baby-boomer-novels-a-new-genre

    And Alana, thanks for the comment and especially for your unrelenting support and for spreading the word about boomer lit. Indeed, it’s shaping up as the Next Big Genre!

  3. December 22, 2012 at 9:45 am

    BB books are carving a great niche in the market. Keep the fires going, Claude. I’m halfway through your book. It is quintessential BB writing. Regards, SW

    • December 22, 2012 at 10:13 am

      Thanks, Stephen, I’m so happy you like it! “Quintessential BB writing”, wow, that’s good to hear!

  4. December 26, 2012 at 10:16 am

    Excellent article, Claude. Boomer Lit is most definitely a genre waiting to be established. Thank you for all of your efforts to have our voices heard. Onward!

  5. December 27, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Hello,
    may I ask if we are talking about books relevant to the needs of Baby Boomers (health, lifestyle etc) or books that would appeal to Baby Boomers. I ask because I am a BB and the author of a novel (family saga set in Scotland in the 1800s) and while it is not necessarily aimed at our age group, this is the demographic that has been buying the book, probably because we have more of an interest in how life used to be for our forebears.
    Best wishes
    Carmel
    http://www.amazon.com/Ours-Yours-Mines-Ayrshire-mid-1800s/dp/1478102551/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353910603&sr=1-3&keywords=ours+yours+and+mines

    • December 29, 2012 at 8:54 am

      Thanks Carmel, you are asking an excellent question. We are talking here about fiction of course, but one could argue that there is, as you mentioned, also the opportunity to start boomer non-fiction, with books exploring themes that are relevant to Baby Boomers in terms of health, lifestyle etc. But let’s stick here to boomer fiction and ask ourselves what sort of fiction would appeal to them. Clearly books evoking their young years would evoke nostalgia and might be appealing. Books that are historicals like your family saga set in the Scotland of the 1800s will also appeal to baby boomers because, with time, they’ve acquired many interests including that of looking at the past, at History and biographies, trying to understand the past and see patterns in it that might relate to their own experience and bring explanations or shed a new light on the present.

      But remember boomer fiction is more narrow: it’s not anything and everything that might appeal to an educated person. Central to it is the transition from maturity to the third stage in life. Consider it a pendant to YA lit (novels for Young Adults) which has “coming of age” as a central theme. YA also deals with transition from one major stage in life to the next,i.e. from being a teenager to becoming an adult. It’s a difficult time, Young Adults ask themselves many fundamental questions about their lives and where they’re going. That’s what makes YA lit so interesting to not only Young Adults but to many older people.

      Now BB lit (or boomer literature) is the same. As you enter the third act in your life, once again you ask yourself many questions. The daily routine of work is left behind you and you need to rebuild your life. What will you do? How can you apply usefully the experience you’ve gained so far to your new life? With current advances in medicine, you can expect to live many more years and in relative good health. You’ll need to find something to do with yourself. These questions are now becoming more and more reevant to boomers as they pass the 50+ mark at the rate of some 3.5 million every year. A big market (some 78 million in total in the US) and a fast growing one – therefore novels that contain these questions (implicitly or explicitly) will have a special appeal. Boomers will recognize themselves in them, the way young adults recognize themselves in YA novels. And BB novels, just like YA novels, span over all kinds of genres…

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