How To Get Women Interested In Books Again?

Sad times, guys. Sad times. It turns out that the book world – an indus­try I had always pre­sumed to be dom­i­nated by women writ­ers, women read­ers and women work­ers – has fallen vic­tim to gen­der prej­u­dices and sex­ism. Women hardly ever seem to be short­listed for book awards any­more, they rarely write book reviews and the books that are reviewed are usu­ally books by men. This leads me to only one con­clu­sion: women have aban­doned books. At some point, they must have stopped writ­ing them, stopped read­ing them, sold their Ikea shelv­ing and left the lit­er­ary community.

It is dis­heart­en­ing to think about book­shops full of fel­las perus­ing the book­shelves with­out being able to peruse female perusers. Or to think of all the male employ­ees left in pub­lish­ing houses, con­demned to work only with col­leagues of their own gen­der (if only women knew how that felt). Or to think of all the his­tor­i­cal fic­tion that will now need to be ghostwritten.

When I think back to the times my own mother used to sit on the edge of my bed and read to me, I find I can no longer recall my mother actu­ally being there. No doubt this too is a sign of the times and is in no way related to what my ther­a­pist calls ‘aban­don­ment issues’.

But men (and women, if you’re read­ing this, although I’m lead to believe you don’t do that any­more) we must not delay. It’s a known fact that women make up some of the world’s pop­u­la­tion and I pro­pose that women could be a key read­ing demo­graphic for book­sellers and pub­lish­ers again.

But how to bring them back into the fold? There is lit­tle doubt that hav­ing given up on books, women have now been seduced by the other dis­trac­tions of the mod­ern world. Dis­trac­tions such as the inter­net, video games, social net­work­ing, The Social Net­work, other movies, play­ing ball on a string and play­ing ball on a string on the inter­net. It is becom­ing tougher and tougher to get peo­ple read­ing in gen­eral (let alone women). Rival medi­ums such as movies, tele­vi­sion and ebooks dom­i­nate in a world where read­ing has become old-fashioned.

So how do we get women off these dis­trac­tions and into books? Now that we know women, like teenagers, are addicted to any type of enter­tain­ment except for books, we sim­ply need to make books less like books and more like all of the above. That way, we’ll trick women back into books. We’ll put books on iPads, include some illus­tra­tions, ani­mate page cor­ners and add a few ready-to-play sounds to dif­fer­ent parts of the touch­screen tablet. We’ll just have to be care­ful that any text we include doesn’t dis­tract the reader from the fact that they’re read­ing a book.

Or we could organ­ise some kind of for­mal col­lec­tive of women, which joins together and con­nects socially through the prism of one inter­change­able book on, say, a monthly basis. We could even give it a snazzy name like For­mal Book Col­lec­tive. Or any other name that we come up with.

The book indus­try itself will need an injec­tion of women at grass­roots lev­els. So let’s try talk­ing to some women we know to see if they’d be inter­ested in pub­lish­ing books, staffing libraries, teach­ing at pri­mary schools or edit­ing lit­er­ary jour­nals. Now I can hear you say­ing already, Andrew, I just can’t imag­ine women dom­i­nat­ing so many thank­less posi­tions in the com­mu­nity. But I believe we can do. Because if there’s some­thing men know how to do, it’s try to get a woman to come back even when she really, truly doesn’t want to. We’ll try and try until the restrain­ing order comes and then we’ll start call­ing her friends. And that’s exactly the kind of ded­i­ca­tion we’ll need.

Finally, there are the women writ­ers. How to get them writ­ing books again, so that we might again see women nom­i­nated for book awards and reviewed in our news­pa­pers? This is pos­si­bly the hard­est ques­tion to answer. After all, you can­not eas­ily coax a woman into hav­ing an idea of her own that she slaves over for eight years and finally sub­mits to a pub­lish­ing house, before being under-compensated, over-hyped, pub­lished, not reviewed in favour of a review by a man for a man’s book and ignored by a panel of book award judges who…

Oh. I get it. Women are still writ­ing books. They’re just not being recog­nised by the gate­keep­ers. They’re prob­a­bly still read­ing and work­ing in books too. Oh, I’m sorry, lit­er­ary ladies. My bad. It’s just that I hadn’t heard about you for a while, and then I stopped think­ing about you and I didn’t see you pop up on Face­book and…well, any­way, I apol­o­gise. I will pay bet­ter atten­tion from now on. As soon as I fin­ish play­ing this crazy Alice in Won­der­land book on my iPad.


I even for­got that I knew how to read let alone write!

Great post to wake up to.

I’m a woman and I read. Like crazy. And I know a lot of women who do too.. Just say­ing :)


Very clever, Andrew! You angling for votes? ;-P


An arti­cle on how men are being alien­ated by the pub­lish­ing industry.

Chris Gordon

On you Andrew, on you. I’ll be send­ing the link around.
Any­way you should have come to this event that was held at Read­ings for Inter­na­tional Women’s Day where a panel of women pub­lish­ers, edi­tors and authors all spoke on this topic. Women are talk­ing and doing to change the situation.


It’s weird because in your bach­e­lor thing post you said “You don’t under­stand why women …
…read so many more books than men. As soon as you leave pri­mary school the read­ing gen­der scales tip dra­mat­i­cally towards women. I find it some­what inex­plic­a­ble. C’mon guys! Don’t you know books are cool and ‘nerd’ is the new ‘buff’.”

@Karen, there’s the pos­si­bil­ity that I’m being heav­ily sar­cas­tic in this post.


I was just about to say the same thing! And I beg to dif­fer if any­thing (at least here in the states) women read WAY MORE than men. How­ever if we were mea­sur­ing the qual­ity of the kinds of lit­er­a­ture each gen­der reads then I’d agree. I’ve got­ten bet­ter book rec­om­men­da­tions by guys than some of my girl friends.

Why hello there.

I’m look­ing down and I’m pretty sure I’ve got boobs so I’m pretty sure that I count as female and I’m pretty sure I like books. In fact, I LOVE books. Books are every­thing. As is writ­ing. Just sayin’…

I can’t believe you have a blog!! YOU! Andrew McDon­ald! Yay! I just posted your “A Pic­to­r­ial Guide to Avoid­ing Cam­era Loss” on one of my recent posts. And dang, there were so many com­ments about you! Every­one was going CRAZY about you!

Hey, whad­dya know? That’s the link to the post with you in it! You should visit my blog. I want you to. Hence the link I’ve just given you. Go. Go now. Visit my blog. Make my day by fol­low­ing it. Look at it. Smell it. Feed it grapes.

(If you do go on my blog to see your pic­tures, you may have to scroll down a bit to find it.)

So…can I buy your book?

Peas out. :P

Hi Eeshie! Thanks for your com­ment. And please don’t take this blog post too seri­ously. Maybe I needed sar­casm font.

Any­way, you can buy my book on Kin­dle, which is prob­a­bly the cheap­est option if you’re in the US–1

Thanks for com­ment­ing! Ax


Ok, so maybe not hold­ing a Y chro­mo­some made it hard to read, and it wasn’t until the very end that I FINALLY ‘got’ the sar­cas­tic tone of this but rather than being frus­trated, this actu­ally made me think. Scary but true!

Any­way, a great post! I laughed at the end, and coudn’t believe how con­fused and con­flicted you made me feel initially!