Want to earn more as a book author? A male name will help

In a revolutionary study of more than two million books published in North America between 2002 and 2012, the researchers found that books written by female authors were 45% cheaper than those of their male counterparts. The researchers, sociologist Dana Beth Weinberg and mathematician Adam Kapelner, both from Queens College-CUNY, say there is much more to the story than can be gleaned from this price gap alone.

The article, published in the journal PLOS A, found that there are three ways in which discrimination takes place. First, female authors are published less than male authors in particular genres. Second, genres considered traditionally female-centric, like romance, are being given less value by the industry. And finally, there are gender differences in the prices of books of the same genre. But even taking all of these differences into account, publishers paid authors with identifiable female names 9% less than authors with male names..

Researchers also looked at whether gender inequalities occur differently in traditional publishing compared to independent publishing, such as self-publishing your book on Amazon. In a fascinating twist, they found that freelance writers generally replicate the same patterns of gender discrimination in mainstream publishing, but there is more equality overall.

The similar trend could be attributed to the fact that consumers are conditioned to pay less for books written by women or in traditionally feminine genres. But because freelance writers are able to set their own book prices, there was more parity in the price of books. So, while independent titles are cheaper on average than traditionally published books, there was only a 7% price difference overall, compared to the 45% difference in traditional publishing.


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Grover Z. Barnes

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