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Trek Literature "...Good words. That's where ideas begin."

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Old October 5 2012, 08:37 PM   #1
King Daniel Into Darkness
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Why are the novels less popular than the episodes/movies?

From what I've read here, it appears that the novels are bought and read by a meagre 2% of the Star Trek fanbase.

This may be a somewhat naive question, but why so small a percentage? Is there some stigma surrounding tie-in books? Is it that they're non-canon? Or is it that people simply don't like to read as much as they like to watch TV?

IMO the books have a hit/miss ratio at least as good as the episodes, so I can't believe it's their quality that's the reason.
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Old October 5 2012, 08:38 PM   #2
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Re: Why are the novels less popular than the episodes/movies?

It's not just Star Trek. Americans just don't seem to read that much anymore.
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Old October 5 2012, 08:40 PM   #3
King Daniel Into Darkness
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Re: Why are the novels less popular than the episodes/movies?

That's a huge shame
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Old October 5 2012, 09:54 PM   #4
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Re: Why are the novels less popular than the episodes/movies?

There's a couple of reasons. 1, Trek on TV or movies gets a lot of ad exposure, so people actually know it exists. For the most part, unless you're actively looking for Trek lit, it's easy to not see any sign of it in everyday life. 2, it's really easy to get into a TV show/movie series by watching one or two of them, especially when they get played a lot. 3, well, see the spoiler:
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Old October 5 2012, 09:55 PM   #5
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Re: Why are the novels less popular than the episodes/movies?

Christopher wrote: View Post
It's not just Star Trek. Americans just don't seem to read that much anymore.
It's not just Americans.

My son is 15, he's a big sci-fi fan. He's been brought up in a house packed to the rafters with books and both his mother and I read a lot in front of him. He's very bright (when he was 8 he had a reading age of 15) and I don't believe he has EVER read a novel. The only time I've seen him read a book from cover to cover was a book for kids by Steven Hawking a few years ago.

He reads all sorts of stuff all the time on the net, but just doesn't 'do' novels. I think it's just a generational thing.
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Old October 5 2012, 10:36 PM   #6
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Re: Why are the novels less popular than the episodes/movies?

^But, but... England! Shakespeare! Culture and stuff! You're supposed to be the classy ones!
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Old October 5 2012, 11:54 PM   #7
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Re: Why are the novels less popular than the episodes/movies?

[QUOTE=bullethead;7062019]There's a couple of reasons. 1, Trek on TV or movies gets a lot of ad exposure, so people actually know it exists. For the most part, unless you're actively looking for Trek lit, it's easy to not see any sign of it in everyday life. [QUOTE/]

A few weeks after the Abrams' Trek film came out I picked up a Vanguard novel at my local supermarket (this store tends to carry every PB Trek novel that comes out). While I was in the checkout line, a guy with what I'm pretty sure was an Australian accent, looks at the novel and says, "I didn't realize that there were Star Trek novels."
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Old October 6 2012, 12:03 AM   #8
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Re: Why are the novels less popular than the episodes/movies?

KingDaniel wrote: View Post
From what I've read here, it appears that the novels are bought and read by a meagre 2% of the Star Trek fanbase.
How are you calculating that number? Who is in the fanbase? How do you count readership? I've read far more novels (Star Trek and otherwise) than I actually own. Probably true for many others, too. Are you sure your numbers aren't skewed?

This may be a somewhat naive question, but why so small a percentage? Is there some stigma surrounding tie-in books? Is it that they're non-canon? Or is it that people simply don't like to read as much as they like to watch TV?
There's a lot of novels out there. I know no matter how many I read - and I read a lot - I'll never hit more than a small percentage of them, and I'm a bibliophile! How many books does the average person read?
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Old October 6 2012, 12:05 AM   #9
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Re: Why are the novels less popular than the episodes/movies?

Christopher wrote: View Post
^But, but... England! Shakespeare! Culture and stuff! You're supposed to be the classy ones!
And have you actually read his stuff? It's utter shite when reading it. To experience Shakespeare, you need to watch a performance of his works. It was never designed to be read as prose, Klingon or otherwise.
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Old October 6 2012, 12:17 AM   #10
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Re: Why are the novels less popular than the episodes/movies?

Pavonis wrote: View Post
KingDaniel wrote: View Post
From what I've read here, it appears that the novels are bought and read by a meagre 2% of the Star Trek fanbase.
How are you calculating that number? Who is in the fanbase? How do you count readership? I've read far more novels (Star Trek and otherwise) than I actually own. Probably true for many others, too. Are you sure your numbers aren't skewed?
They're not his numbers. That's the rule of thumb some publishers use when calculating potential sales. When you compare the ratings for the TV shows to the net sales of the tie-in books . . . yeah, you're usually talking about 2% of the TV audience.

I first heard the 2% rule from former Trek editor, John Ordover, who used it to accurately predict the sales of my Farscape books. In my experience, as an author and editor, it's a pretty reliable equation.

That has nothing to do with the quality of the books and more to do with the fact that TV and book publishing exist at entirely different orders of magnitude. Millions of people watch a TV show. But, aside from HARRY POTTER or something, most books sell in the thousands.
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Old October 6 2012, 12:22 AM   #11
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Re: Why are the novels less popular than the episodes/movies?

Christopher wrote: View Post
^But, but... England! Shakespeare! Culture and stuff! You're supposed to be the classy ones!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7w9She_YT6I
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Old October 6 2012, 12:48 AM   #12
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Re: Why are the novels less popular than the episodes/movies?

Greg Cox wrote: View Post
Pavonis wrote: View Post
KingDaniel wrote: View Post
From what I've read here, it appears that the novels are bought and read by a meagre 2% of the Star Trek fanbase.
How are you calculating that number? Who is in the fanbase? How do you count readership? I've read far more novels (Star Trek and otherwise) than I actually own. Probably true for many others, too. Are you sure your numbers aren't skewed?
They're not his numbers. That's the rule of thumb some publishers use when calculating potential sales. When you compare the ratings for the TV shows to the net sales of the tie-in books . . . yeah, you're usually talking about 2% of the TV audience.

That has nothing to do with Star Trek and more to do with the fact that TV and book publishing exist at entirely different orders of magnitude. Millions of people watch a TV show. But, aside from HARRY POTTER or something, most books sell in the thousands.


Whch is why the audio book market or the interactive e-book market comes in to play by giving an extra boost in sales. Arguably the main reason people give for not reading novels is a lack of time. Audio books especially helps out on that end by allowing "readers" to be able to listen to the story while commuting, jogging or relaxing in the bathtub. Truth is it is a growing market that is beginning to spread across the globe. We even now have Amazon offering Kindle book readers the offer of the Audible audio version (for an extra $3.99) to go along the e-books they purchase. This allows readers of the e-book to switch from the Kindle when they are reading from the comfort of their couch, to the iTouch, iPhone or some other smart phone when they wish to continue with the story to do some work in their garden. The new technology allows perfect synchronization so the audio version of the book can pick up exactly where one left off on the Kindle. And vice versa. Amazon owns Audible anyway so it was a no-brainer for it to go this route. This is a perfect tool for the modern day consumer who can't find enough time to read or can't sit still long enough to read.

I started a thread about this topic of audio books that so far hasn't picked up any traction. The point I was making is that Star Trek is not in a position to take advantage of this growing market because its publisher never put much stock in the audiobook buisness in regards to Star Trek novels. The rare times it does go the audiobook route it is almost certain to be an abridged version of a story. Most readers who are interested in a book don't want an abridged version of the story....unless they are highschoolers reading a novel for class.
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Old October 6 2012, 12:52 AM   #13
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Re: Why are the novels less popular than the episodes/movies?

Dimesdan wrote: View Post
Christopher wrote: View Post
^But, but... England! Shakespeare! Culture and stuff! You're supposed to be the classy ones!
And have you actually read his stuff? It's utter shite when reading it. To experience Shakespeare, you need to watch a performance of his works. It was never designed to be read as prose, Klingon or otherwise.
And the other big mistake schools make... you really don't have to know Shakespeare. If you want to get kids to read, let them read contemporary stuff and stuff they're interested in. You can analyze the hell out of Harry Potter as well. And THEN, when they're interested, when they are used to tackle longer and more complex stuff, when they are used to analyze the familar, then you can do Shakespeare.
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Old October 6 2012, 01:13 AM   #14
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Re: Why are the novels less popular than the episodes/movies?

Yeah. Honestly, I think most grade school and high school English classes probably do more harm then good when it comes to trying to get kids interested in reading. By forcing kids to read stuff that they have no interest in all they are doing is making reading an unpleasant experience that they aren't going to want to continue having without being forced to.
I love reading because in my free time I read stuff I wanted to read. If all I read was the stuff I was forced to read in school, I would probably hate it.

As for why Trek books aren't more popular, I think it's the lack of interest in reading on the part of the majority of people, and a lack of knowledge about the books.
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Old October 6 2012, 01:16 AM   #15
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Re: Why are the novels less popular than the episodes/movies?

Simply put, most of the people who read Trek novels are the ones that are devoted Trek fans as opposed to having a casual passing interest in it. Since it's only a small percentage overall that are devoted, it's a small percentage that read Trek novels.
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