What the hell is “woman’s fiction”?

It was bugging me for a long time now, why do we have “woman’s fiction” or “woman’s literature” shelves in bookstores? What are those books? And where can I find the “men’s fiction” shelf to see what they have in there?

Let’s take the easiest example – Amazon and its “Woman’s Fiction” shelf. Why do they even have that cathegory if the books under it are split to sub cathegories like Fantasy, Classic, Mystery, etc? Well yes, there’s still something like “Women’s Poetry” which is yet another strange cathegory, but let’s concentrate on the other shelves.

If they were able to put these books into sub cathegories, like Fantasy, then why haven’t they used the main Fantasy shelf? Is there something wrong with these books? How are they different from the other books on Fantasy shelf? I know it’s easy to miscategorize a book, I’ve seen plenty of that, but there’s still a problem of this mysterious Woman’s Fiction shelf existing.

  1. Can someone explain to me what is it all about?
  2. Why do we need this shelf?
  3. Where’s the “Man’s fiction” shelf?
  4. What criteria these do books need to meet to be put on that shelf?

Well, I’m off to do some sailing through the weekend, I hope to see some answers when I’ll get back on Monday :). Keep your fingers crossed for our team! we want to be as close to the podium as we can!

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16 thoughts on “What the hell is “woman’s fiction”?

  1. I have to tell you that I haven’t seen a ‘women’s fiction’ shelf in my (reasonably) local stores for a long time. They appear to have only three novel categories: science fiction/fantasy/horror; crime; and everything else alphabetically by author.

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  2. I always presumed women’s fiction was fiction aimed at women or with female protagonists that didn’t fit into any other category… e.g. I have a friend who wrote a book about a female character who goes back to her family farm after her mother dies. You wouldn’t really class it a rom com because it’s not centred on a romance, but ‘fiction’ seems too general, so I often see it referred to as ‘women’s fiction’. That said, it’s got a rural Australian setting so I think it gets shelves as ‘Australian Rural Fiction’ most of the time.

    But if they’re shelving fantasy and other genres under ‘women’s fiction’ that’s just a bit silly. Personally, I agree that ‘fantasy’ and ‘romance’ etc. are perfectly fine categories and a ‘women’s fiction’ label is just going to confuse people and make it look like those are the only books women are supposed to read!

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  3. Pingback: Squirrels, foxes and Japanese temple maids – Magic of books

  4. Haha! I love this so much! I’ve been wondering the same thing. What the hell is women’s fiction? Is that supposed to be chick lit? I’m not a fan of that name either. I guess it’s a lazy way of not lumping books for women into proper sub-genres.

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  5. Good luck on your sailing!
    Women’s fiction are those romantic comedy books sometimes referred to as chick lit. I think they call it that because it’s assumed that only women will read it.

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    1. Thanks 🙂
      We didn’t do too well this year, but it was still fun and we went through all kind of sailing weather – from almost stormy to no wind at all.

      I don’t get the “chick lit” name either. If it is a rom com then they should put it in this category. Besides I’ve seen plenty of books put on a shelf like this that weren’t romances although looking at the covers on Amazon I’d say it’s mostly Harlequin 😉

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        1. Yup :). The funny thing is – I know nothing about it. I’m only following what others tell me to, but the feeling of the wind is amazing. I wish I could sail on one of the tall ships one day.

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