The genre trap - is book classification help or hinderance.

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minimarshmallow
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A lot of bookstores sort books by genre. Makes sense, right?

Mystery readers are going to tend to want to read, and therefore buy, mystery books.
Same goes for romance readers.
And Sci-Fi.

But some books are ambiguous about their genre - I didn't know Never Let Me Go was Sci-Fi, and it tends to be shelved in General Fiction.Plenty of thriller books have a romance storyline running through them (too many, says my dad).

And what about variation within genres? I read Sophie Hannah, and my dad reads James Patterson, and they're both shelved in Thriller/Mystery/Police/Murder or whatever the bookstore wants to go with, but I'm sure those who have read both wouldn't necessarily recommend them to the same people.

Do genres help or hinder?

Is your local bookstore (chain, independent or charity) separated into genres?

Is your library? Mine isn't beyond fiction, non-fiction and kids.
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Queen Cersei
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(Original post by minimarshmallow)
A lot of bookstores sort books by genre. Makes sense, right?

Mystery readers are going to tend to want to read, and therefore buy, mystery books.
Same goes for romance readers.
And Sci-Fi.

But some books are ambiguous about their genre - I didn't know Never Let Me Go was Sci-Fi, and it tends to be shelved in General Fiction.Plenty of thriller books have a romance storyline running through them (too many, says my dad).

And what about variation within genres? I read Sophie Hannah, and my dad reads James Patterson, and they're both shelved in Thriller/Mystery/Police/Murder or whatever the bookstore wants to go with, but I'm sure those who have read both wouldn't necessarily recommend them to the same people.

Do genres help or hinder?

Is your local bookstore (chain, independent or charity) separated into genres?

Is your library? Mine isn't beyond fiction, non-fiction and kids.
I have to admit I find it very difficult to find books in Waterstones as they never seem to be where I expect!
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Nirgilis
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(Original post by minimarshmallow)
A lot of bookstores sort books by genre. Makes sense, right?

Mystery readers are going to tend to want to read, and therefore buy, mystery books.
Same goes for romance readers.
And Sci-Fi.

But some books are ambiguous about their genre - I didn't know Never Let Me Go was Sci-Fi, and it tends to be shelved in General Fiction.Plenty of thriller books have a romance storyline running through them (too many, says my dad).

And what about variation within genres? I read Sophie Hannah, and my dad reads James Patterson, and they're both shelved in Thriller/Mystery/Police/Murder or whatever the bookstore wants to go with, but I'm sure those who have read both wouldn't necessarily recommend them to the same people.

Do genres help or hinder?

Is your local bookstore (chain, independent or charity) separated into genres?

Is your library? Mine isn't beyond fiction, non-fiction and kids.

To be honest, this is one of the reasons why I moved away from shopping in a bookstore to shopping online. Especially on a place like Amazon, where you can select books which span multiple genres and has a huge range of sub-genres, it's just a lot easier to find exactly what you want.

I mean, you need to categorise books someway, otherwise the bookstore would be a mess and no-one would be able to find what they wanted. But maybe bookstores are a bit too broad in their genre classifications?
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Kvothe the Arcane
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They help. You've not really demonstrated how they might hinder. Just that genre classification can be a bit vague.
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chazwomaq
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The thing that always confused me was how libraries stock sci-fi and fantasy in their own section, and sometimes crime too, like they were dirty and had to be kept away from the proper books.

But all other genres got lumped together - historical fiction, romance, comedy, drama, whatever.

And if you're a famous enough writer you get out of the ghetto e.g. Salman Rushdie's fantasies or Margaret Attwood's science fiction!
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Kocytean
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(Original post by Kvothe the arcane)
They help. You've not really demonstrated how they might hinder. Just that genre classification can be a bit vague.
I agree, it helps to have a rough idea where a book or author might be, even if it might take a few looks. It would be harder with everything all mixed together.
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Kiimii
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at least with classification by genre you can have a slight idea of where to look... though to be honest I tend to give up and just ask someone
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SlowlorisIncognito
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I think sorting by genre is a good idea- If I want a book by a particular author, I usually buy it online as it's cheaper and I don't have to worry about going to the bookstore and finding they don't have it. If I go to a bookstore, it's usually because I want something new to read and I want to try a new author (or I'm stuck in an airport/train station with nothing to read). Sorting by Genre means that I can avoid things I definitely won't read (e.g. True Crime) and can head towards sections such as Fantasy/Scifi which might have something that will appeal to me.
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Retired_Messiah
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I just buy the stuff I read online.

Although mostly because staring down the person at the till when you're buying the Satanic Bible, Mein Kampf and Lolita isn't my idea of a fun time, rather than anything to do with genre sorting.
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minimarshmallow
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(Original post by Kvothe the arcane)
They help. You've not really demonstrated how they might hinder. Just that genre classification can be a bit vague.
There are plenty of books in the thriller section that I have read and then gone on to recommend to my mum - she would never have found them by herself. Same goes for horror - I picked one up the sorting room of the book shop I used to volunteer in that I would never have come across on the shelf.

You could be missing out on your new favourite book because that's not "your genre".
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Kvothe the Arcane
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(Original post by minimarshmallow)
There are plenty of books in the thriller section that I have read and then gone on to recommend to my mum - she would never have found them by herself. Same goes for horror - I picked one up the sorting room of the book shop I used to volunteer in that I would never have come across on the shelf.

You could be missing out on your new favourite book because that's not "your genre".
But you could miss out on books if they were simply organised by author's name with no type of classification. At least genre-sorting helps.
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MattyBCraps
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My favourtie trap music is Waka flocka flame
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moggis
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(Original post by Queen Cersei)
I have to admit I find it very difficult to find books in Waterstones as they never seem to be where I expect!
I find it very difficult to find books in Waterstones as they usually don't have the book I'm after.
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The Warsmith
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Sorting by genre no doubt does help, as most people who seek out books generally tend to have only one or two genres that they want to read into at the time. Ambivalence is rather rare in this case, if you ask me.
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Joinedup
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(Original post by chazwomaq)
The thing that always confused me was how libraries stock sci-fi and fantasy in their own section, and sometimes crime too, like they were dirty and had to be kept away from the proper books.

But all other genres got lumped together - historical fiction, romance, comedy, drama, whatever.

And if you're a famous enough writer you get out of the ghetto e.g. Salman Rushdie's fantasies or Margaret Attwood's science fiction!
Well there used to be an awful lot of crappy genre books published - Western is a genre you don't see so much of nowadays.

Romance is a bit of an outlier as according to wiki mills and boon still publish 100 genre 'romance' titles per month but afaict you don't get hundreds of similar sci-fis about male space ship crews exploring the planet of the blue-skinned-nympho-woman anymore.

I think the genre aparthied is largely a relic of a different era in publishing when it made sense for shops and libraries to keep the forgettable, soon to be deleted pulp fiction separate from the 'literature'
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chazwomaq
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(Original post by Joinedup)
afaict you don't get hundreds of similar sci-fis about male space ship crews exploring the planet of the blue-skinned-nympho-woman anymore.
More's the pity.

A niche in the market perhaps?
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blamethenargles
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(Original post by minimarshmallow)
A lot of bookstores sort books by genre. Makes sense, right?

Mystery readers are going to tend to want to read, and therefore buy, mystery books.
Same goes for romance readers.
And Sci-Fi.

But some books are ambiguous about their genre - I didn't know Never Let Me Go was Sci-Fi, and it tends to be shelved in General Fiction.Plenty of thriller books have a romance storyline running through them (too many, says my dad).

And what about variation within genres? I read Sophie Hannah, and my dad reads James Patterson, and they're both shelved in Thriller/Mystery/Police/Murder or whatever the bookstore wants to go with, but I'm sure those who have read both wouldn't necessarily recommend them to the same people.

Do genres help or hinder?

Is your local bookstore (chain, independent or charity) separated into genres?

Is your library? Mine isn't beyond fiction, non-fiction and kids.
I think separating into genres helps, on-line or in store because if you are only into specific genres it's easier for you to find something that you're more likely to enjoy- especially if you want to read books from a new author or want to broaden your horizons a little without stepping too far out of your comfort zone.
I get what you mean about the ambiguity of it though, especially with Never Let Me Go. Maybe the author should give it some classification when it's published? Who knows.
I feel like you should have a separate option to categorise them on-line so at least if you want to just dive into a sea of books without thinking about any sort of genre then you can?
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