At Barnes & Noble I see that holiday offerings are already on display – and in the grocery store, holiday paperbacks on the kiosk near customer service. Does Bookends have an opinion on “holiday lit” as a genre, or wanna-be-genre?
Ah, yes, it’s that most wonderful time of the year and holiday books abound. I actually have my own personal collection of holiday books—titles that get packed away each season with the Christmas lights and come out to sit on the coffee table when the tree goes up. Books like ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, The Book of Christmas Questions, and My Treasury of Christmas Stories. And of course I would be remiss if I didn’t mention The Book of Thanksgiving, one of the books Jacky and I wrote in our packaging days. I don’t, however, usually look for holiday-centered novels, especially since I don’t have much time until after Christmas to actually sit down and read.
But do I have an opinion on holiday books, or I guess, more specifically, holiday novels? Well, surprise, surprise. I do. I think holiday lit (as you call it) is a great marketing opportunity for an already established author. You often get special holiday placement at bookstores, where you’ll be picked up by your regular readers and also by those looking for the perfect gift for Mom, Dad, or Grandma. For those who have not yet been published, or who are early on in your career, I will often recommend against writing a book that’s too targeted to a certain time of year. Holiday lit is great in November and December, when everyone seems to be in the spirit and can’t get enough mistletoe, nog, and good cheer, but the rest of the year most of us, including bookstores, want to avoid something that so obviously screams Christmas. Which means that often you won’t find those books (unless they are written by very-well-established authors) on the shelves at all.
I don’t think it’s a wanna-be genre. In fact, I never thought of it as a genre. Instead I think it’s a way for publishers and authors, like everyone else, to jump on the holiday bandwagon and find new opportunities to market and sell books.
But what about the readers? Do you find yourself buying books because they are holiday books or do you simply buy them because they are another book by an author you love?