Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Robert Lasner: The Death of the First Time Novel

14 March 2005 — Elisabeth Sifton, then Editor–in–Chief of Viking, wrote in the May 22, 1982 issue of The Nation that, "the average first novel sells only about 2,000 to 4,000 copies. This readership represents about .001 or .002 percent of the population." Combine those sobering sales statistics with last year's NEA report, "Reading at Risk," which showed a ten percent decline in literary readership since 1982, when Ms. Sifton made her comments, and it is clear that things are not going well for literary first fiction.

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