Literary fiction is in crisis. A new chapter of funding authors must begin | Claire Armistead
Competition from smartphones and readers sticking to well-known writers means novelists are suffering. We must find ways better ways to enable them
Finally it’s official: literary fiction is in crisis, and writers across the land are burning the midnight oil in their garrets, teaching or slogging away in unrelated jobs to keep the fire ablaze in the grate. This Dickensian picture was revealed by Arts Council England today in a report that suggests it may have to shift its funding priorities in order to save a population whose economic and cultural solvency has been chipped away over the years.
So why has it come to this, and how much does it really matter? The first thing to be clear about is that people are not necessarily reading less – print sales of books across fiction, nonfiction and children’s titles rose almost 9% in the UK last year, while on Tuesday market analysts Nielsen BookScan will reveal that sales over the all-important Christmas period have risen 20% since 2013.