An analysis of over 2 million books published between 2002 and 2012 by researchers at the City University of New York finds that publishing, after all, is one big boys club.
Books penned by female authors fetch nearly 50 percent less of the price of their male counterparts according to new research out of the City University of New York. Published in the journal PLOS one this April, researchers analyzed two million titles published between 2002 to 2012, to see look at imbalances between sales and salaries of male and female authors. Researchers discovered that, on average, books attached to women writers are priced $17.92 lower than men.
The data shows that discrimination permeates most aspects of the industry. Women are underrepresented in more prestigious genres, whereas genres predominantly filled with female authors are less valuable. The only piece data that showed an overwhelming female presentation was the percentage of books on craft, romance, and erotic fiction books penned under a women’s name.
There is the worst kind of trickle down behavior taking place, as well, the research points out. The gender gap of big publishing is basically mirrored by smaller presses and independent imprints. The same discriminatory practices are virtually copied, with the exception of gender price gap, just 7 percent, due to competition and compressed pricing.
Looking beyond the hard math of the CUNY report, book criticism is largely a male-dominated sphere, resulting in less favorable reviews and attention for female authors. A New York-based group tracking the role of women in the publishing industry concluded after their 2016 survey that two-thirds of all books reviewed and of all critics are men. That investment in female authors is typically less, on average, than their male counterparts points to one of the more nebulous practices of an industry riven with gender discrimination: implicit bias. Female names (note: not work by females) just don’t seem to be worth the time or risk to tackle more expansive projects. “Female authors,” the report concludes, “are less likely to be published in the formats that are more expensive to produce and distribute.” Size, in publishing it seems, does matter.