Dear Publishers,

This is my second annual blog post about what readers are looking for. The information is based on the utterly unscientific insight deemed from working the bookstore sales floor during the busiest book buying time of the year. Take note.  

  • “Do you have any books with creepy narrators? I love creepy narrators.” (You are probably picturing a beady-eyed guy with grey hair, maybe a mustache; the customer was a middle-aged woman with glasses, paisleys, and a big grin.) I actually think this category was well covered this year (The Girl on the Train, Eileen, The Hand that Feeds You), but this customer argued, “You can never have too many creeps.”
  • “Do you have any poetry books for teens?” The young adult market is booming and there seems to be a disproportionally high number of dystopian novels and teen romances; surely we can offer them some good ol’ fashioned teen angst in the form of good ol’ fashioned poetry. And I happen to still have my junior high poetry journal if anyone is interested in publishing it. 
  • “I read The Martian and I’m dying to know what that guy did when he got back. You know, how he’s doing. Is there a follow up book?” This isn’t really a trend, more like a favor: this customer was so sincere in his interest and concern about the fictional astronaut Mark Watney that I didn’t have the heart to tell him that he isn’t real. So I’d really appreciate it if someone can publish a sequel…”Former astronaut Mark Watnery has travelled the Milky Way but now he’s setting out on a new mission–this time in a RV called “Sam” with a dog named “Ruby.” And he’s about to discover the strangest planet yet, Earth.”
  • “Do you have any inspirational or funny audio books for an 80-year-old?” Or 70-year-old. Or 90-year-old. I’m asked this question frequently. The request is always for a gift for someone else so I can’t confirm whether the 80-year-old actually wants an inspirational or funny audio book but I will speculate that by 80 years old, you probably need one, or the other.
  • Multicultural children’s picture books. Please don’t make me say it again. #weneeddiversebooks
  • Books about Greyhound buses. The customer who made this request seemed fairly confident that we would have an entire section dedicated to Greyhound buses. I was speechless for a few moments then I tried to recover: “Are you interested in the, um, design or, uh, the culture or…?” “Both,” she said, without hesitation. Admittedly if this is a trend, she’s way ahead of it. 
  • “I have a friend who’s a big reader and I want to get them a book but I don’t know what they’ve read. Do you have any books on reading? Or the love of reading?” One of the most common questions I get. (And it happens to be the topic of a book I’m working on…)
  • “Do you have a good book to recommend?” Music to my ears. Still the most common question, one that brings me pure joy (and job security).