Why the demand for fantasy books skyrocketed during the pandemic

Why the demand for fantasy books skyrocketed during the pandemic
Why the demand for fantasy books skyrocketed during the pandemic

Confined since the beginning of the pandemic, environmental engineer Bia Sousa, 25, found a way to circumvent the monotony without breaking health protocols. Beginning in fantasy books in the middle of last year, Belo Horizonte found a passport to magical worlds where the coronavirus has no time. Like the semifada universe Bryce Quinlan, a character in the trilogy “City of the Crescent Moon”, who fights wolves and archangels. Or the reinterpretations of classic myths by Percy Jackson, a teenager who interacts with Greek gods.

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Blogger of books, she started to share her new experiences to the more than 21 thousand followers of her Instagram profile, @ berco.literario. From the readers’ feedback, she believes she is not the only one to wander the strange lands described in the books of the genre. And it’s not. A recent survey by Nielsen, commissioned by Grupo Record, proves this impression. According to the global data company, the fantasy segment was the fastest growing in the publishing market, with a 61% increase in sales volume since March 2020.

– Whenever I picked up one of these books I forgot all the chaotic reality around me – says Bia, who usually participates in sprints (collective readings and online marathons) with friends. – It looks like we opened a door and moved to another place. It was everything I needed, and which, I confess, I still need.

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Even before Nielsen’s research, publishers had already noticed a boost in several titles. Internal surveys by some of them indicate that fantasy works are being consumed more by teenagers and so-called young adults (up to 25 years old) – which leads one to believe that this profile of readers in the pandemic will grow.

Illustration from the book “The lightning thief”, from the Percy Jackson series Photo: Reproduction

American books by Rick Riordan, which always sold well, started to present numbers outside the curve for the Intrinsic publisher. Like the box of the Percy Jackson series, from the same house, which grew more than 600%. Known for series like “Corte de Espinhos e Rosas” (Galera Record), the American Sarah J. Maas has sold almost 500 thousand since the beginning of the pandemic – the equivalent of what she had sold between the years 2013 and 2020. Harry Potter, the most famous character of the genre, he ranked first and second in the children’s and youth ranking – something that, according to Rocco, his publisher, had not happened in many years.

Tracking profiles on the networks, Rocco outlined the following scenario: at first in the quarantine, young people watched all the series on Netflix; after a while, however, came the desire to disconnect and ‘marathon’ books.

– This movement is driven by communities, groups and influencers, mainly on Instagram and Tik Tok, networks that were not as strong or that did not exist in the previous waves of readings of these fantasy series – says Bruno Zolotar, marketing and communication director at Rocco. – And there was also the phenomenon of sprints, which reinforced the collective aspect of the readings.

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Professors at the University of Passo Fundo (RS), Miguel Rettenmaier and Fabiane Verardi believe that, due to the profusion of mythologies and legendary characters, fantasy literature easily adapted to the textualities of the digital age, such as fanfics and sprints. For young readers, this is an invitation to research by internet searchers and to talk among readers on social networks.

– Without a “physical” school, more young people may have realized that reading can also entertain and amuse – say the researchers, who also coordinate the traditional Literary Journeys of Passo Fundo. – It can be a reason for conversations, virtual meetings … of conversation wheels on the screens of mobiles …

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It is worth remembering, however, that other favorite genres of young people did not have the same boom as fantasy during this period. The suspense / terror category grew by 35%; general fiction, 25%; and, graphic novel, only 2%. But then, why the fantasy?

– It is a genre that allows immersion in a world with its own laws, which also goes through challenges such as wars and curses – says Rafaella Machado, from Galera Record, a label that had a 158% increase in sales of its fantasy titles in the last year. – I think that this growth has a lot to do with young people at home for a year now, unable to fully experience the experiences of their age, the exchange, the rites of passage.

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Historically, periods of crisis have strengthened stories that help us escape from reality. During the Great Depression, for example, Hollywood was prolific in comedies and musicals. The curious thing is that, according to Rafaella Machado, what was on the rise shortly before the Covid-19 outbreak were self-help titles aimed at productivity – the exact opposite of escapism.

Another advantage of fantasy in times of a pandemic, according to Intrinsic’s marketing director, Heloiza Daou, is the sagas that allow the reader to embark on long adventures without haste to end them. The five volumes of the Percy Jackson box add up to no less than 1,816 pages.

– The most seen in this pandemic were the literary enterprises: the reader decided that now was the time to marathon long books or great sagas – he says. – No wonder the pits are selling so much.

The time available in the quarantine brought the necessary “focus” for the paulistas Sarah and Sabrina Carvalho, the twins of instagram @surtoliterario, to start their immersion in universes such as “O Povo do Ar”, by the author Holly Black.

– Now, we can live several different adventures every day – say the sisters, 22 years old. – There is even a phrase that says that a reader lives a thousand lives before he dies and the pandemic proved it to us: we live many lives through the pages.

The heroism of the characters in the books of the genre also ends up serving as inspiration to face the difficult moment.

– The news about the pandemic always frightens us, but, if it depended on some fantasy characters, Covid’s cure was already underway here – jokes Bia Souza.

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