I have been working in a small independant bookstore now for over a year and I've been learning so much about the book industry. It's been interesting seeing the relationship between book sales, media and staff-customer interactions. That said, the internet and brick and mortar stores have an uneasy coexistence. I can't be as anti-amazon and anti-self-publication and the latest technological gadgets delivering books to readers and whatever. I tried, in the past to be resistant to change, and now I am tired of that.
There is no amount of resistance that will make the future other than it will be. That said there is a synergy among internet dissemination of information, traditional marketing avenues, readers, and bookstores that is a little difficult to put a finger on, much less explain and it doesn't help that so many patrons of the store are either pro-e-book or anti-e-book, with more on the anti side than admitting to owning a Kindle, Nook, or Reading on their iPads.
But the relationships among these things are exactly what I want to understand this year--particularly in its relationship to genre. This question came to mind particularly with iO9's list of the top SF books of 2013. Their list included titles like "The Accursed," by Joyce Carol Oates, and "MaddAddam," by Margaret Atwood, which in our store is shelved with the literature.
I talked to someone who occasionally helps out in the store, who writes mystery, and he talks about the genre blending lines in mystery as well. I feel that understanding how the big publishers make these distinctions, or why, can help to understand what the relationship among the new technologies and communication patterns, traditional outreach methods --t.v, radio, and newspaper articles/reviews-- and brick and mortar stores/online stores (sales).
The questions I want to answer with my reading this year will be: What is genre? What is literature? What is YA? How does genre fiction characterize itself and is there any underlying characteristics that differentiate it from literary fiction? If there is what are these and why do they exist?
These questions should get me closer to an understanding of what characterizes particular audiences, and lend a more in depth understanding of how the book industry works, and the significance of these various categories to readers and to the industry.
It's kind of an academic approach... and the reason for that is that I *did* manage to complete both Camp Nano and Nanowrimo in 2013. I have two 50k word rough drafts to turn into something publishable by the end of 2014. I want to know where my writing falls on the spectrum and why.
So I am planning to read a lot this year, across many genres, while revising Rule of Magic and The Lady and the Bow.