Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Potato Chip Theory ... or Some Such Nonsense

After taking inventory of my reading history over the past ... hmm, let me think ... I'll say forty some years, I made a curious observation. I make my choices in reading like craving potato chips. I couldn't read just one gothic romance (circa my teen through early adult years). I had to devour them like that bag of chips. One scrumptious bite of syrupy, sappy love scenes after another, until I satiated my appetite ... or gained too many pounds of love calories.

And then a new flavored chip came along during my late twenties to late thirties. One with lots of bite to it, i.e. stories of horror and nightmares, ala Stephen King, Dean Koontz, John Saul, and the rest. The adrenaline rush that those scary monsters, ghouls, and ghostly creations gave me couldn't have been more satisfying. The scarier the better, even if they did keep me up nights, along with every nightlight I could manage to turn on without my husband griping!

But soon, I had my fill, the last gory scene of blood and guts splattering everywhere. Nausea set in and I experienced indigestion. Time to move on. That was nearly twenty years ago. The moment to launch the newest, latest, greatest tasting chip ever! Mysteries ... suspenseful ones, forensic ones, romantic ones, heroic ones, anything with the familiar mysterious taste. And to the present, I still enjoy those chips! The flavor is addicting, probably some ingredient I'm meant to crave. Whatever it is, I will keep reading ... or eating ... every word of every page of every chapter of every ... ah, you get the picture.

So, then, I began to wonder if my reading habit imitated my behavior with other things, like my favorite television shows, music, restaurants, etc. Let me think another minute ... nope. At least not as noticeable as with reading. For example, I enjoy American Idol and The Voice, but I don't care for those other music competition shows (and I won't mention the names).

Still, it does make me consider how producers, publishers, and all the other powers that make important decisions, choose what's coming out next. Television back in the fifties and sixties could not get enough western shows on the air. In the seventies, it overflowed with detective shows like Mod Squad, Hart to Hart, McCloud, Columbo, and I refuse to go on. In publishing YA loves vampires, and readers sure like to chomp down on gossipy morsels of the celebrities and politicians. Anyway, I'm sure you get my drift. Potato Chip Theory? Maybe not such nonsense after all.

Whips, Cuffs, and Little Brown Boxes
Alice in Realityland


DJ Lutz said...

I think your theory has merit. I have had many an agent tell me what the big guys are looking for (and not looking for) and I keep hearing "no more vampires." Yet, I see new books of this type every day, all selling quite well. Maybe I should get my jaded private eye a bag of chips and see what happens. Or add a vampire. Hmmm. Good post!

teacherwriter said...

Thanks, DJ. Let the potato chip war on marketing begin!