Crime fiction booming in new CWA survey…

What does a crime reader look like?

According to a recent survey from the Crime Writers’ Association, a typical crime reader is a woman, aged sixty-plus, married but with no children living at home, and living in London – and they may increasingly prefer to read an ebook.

The CWA has specially commissioned a Bowker Market Research survey to celebrate Crime Writing Month, which shows crime fiction is booming.

Chair Peter James said, “With the top 10 books borrowed from libraries in 2011 being crime fiction and 20% of all fiction sold being crime and thriller, there can be no clearer demonstration of just how important this genre is in the literary canon of today. Just as we now view the Victorian age through the works of mass-market authors like Dickens, I believe in 100 years’ time our age will be read and studied through quality crime and thriller fiction, far more than so-called ‘literary fiction’.”

Sixty per cent of the burgeoning ebook crime market is made up of women buyers, echoing the wealth of best-selling and new female authors connecting with readers in sub-genres such as contemporary, historical and psychological crime.

Crime fiction on the whole showed a year-on-year increase from 2010 to 2011 with £112.9m spent on books and 75% of that on paperbacks. The criteria which most prompts readers to buy a book is having read the author before (48%), and 25% decide whilst browsing. Seventy per cent of crime books are bought by men and women over the age of 45, while 41% of the overall readership work full-time and 28% are retired buyers.

London is the best-selling area for crime fiction with 16% of the overall market, the Midlands next at 15% and Scotland third with an impressive 12% of purchases.

Crime Writing Month events and competitions are happening until July 5th in UK bookshops and libraries. Find out more at

The new Crime Readers’ Association initiative has been boosted hugely by Crime Writing Month with hundreds of crime fiction fans signing up to read exclusive content from CWA authors. Discover more about the CRA at

The CWA will celebrate the end of Crime Writing Month at their lavish 5th July awards ceremony in the Library at One Birdcage Walk in London, where the winners of the Library, Debut, Non-Fiction, International, Ellis Peters Historical and Short Story Dagger awards will be announced along with the Dagger longlists for the Gold, Steel and John Creasey (for first novels) categories. Crime fiction legend Frederick Forsyth will also be awarded the prestigious CWA Diamond Dagger.

14 June 2012