Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Sorry State of the Anthology Market

An•THOL•o•gy--noun, English. A collection of selected literary pieces or passages or works of art or music. (Merriam Webster)

Do you have a shelf for them? A section for them?
Well they aren’t just for English class, you know!

This is why we love them:
• Sample many authors for the price of one book
• You are bound to like at least one story in the collection
• Read many stories about your favorite topics/subjects
• In a one-author anthology, find many doses of your favorite authors talent
• One book, with many quick, one-sit reads-perfect for the busy person
• Short stories: Complete meaningful story in one compact telling
• You can support many authors at the same time by buying one book :)
• A lot of new talent emerges in anthologies featuring other big names
• Year’s Best compilations contain the cream of the annual crop in one genre

Anthologies, single and multiple author, do seem to be a dying breed. Yet, they are a magnificent creature in the menagerie of the bookshelf (virtual or no).

Last year thousands of Anthologies were published. A quick search on Amazon showed that few had a full 5 star rating, and most had fewer than 20 reviews (A book needs to have 25 reviews on Amazon to begin getting pushed automatically.). Sad times in book land.

Most of anthologies were romance/erotica and horror collections. I am led to believe that these genres simply have an audience for anthologies. So these readers get it, why only them? I don’t think that these are the only readers who will like anthologies. Many readers don’t give anthologies a chance, and are missing out.

Here’s an example. The actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt edited an anthology last year. At the time of writing this, fewer than 83 people “like” it on Amazon and there were 27 reviews. It’s only available in hardcover though... The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories: Volume 1. Even so, this anthology is not doing so well compared to other books “written” by celebrities about their own lives.

So, go check out an anthology already.

Here are the GPS picks if you need some suggestions:

Cindy’s Recommendations
Way of the Wizard ed. John Joseph Adams
Tales before Tolkien ed. Douglas A. Anderson
The Fairy Reel eds. Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

Scribings Vol. 1 Wait, how’d that get in there? Ooops. Oh well...

Jamie’s Recommendations
The Ultimate Cyberpunk ed. Pat Cadigan
And all six books in the Dragonlance Tales series

Chris’ Recommendations

Women of Wonder: The Contemporary Years, Science Fiction by Women from the 1970s to the 1990s Edited by Pamela Sargent

If you still can’t find something you like, you can search Wikipedia for your favorite author and see what anthologies he/she is published in. You may get to read a story you never knew existed, and possibly discover new authors at the same time.