There’s no question that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the way entertainment is created and produced. The news is filled with stories of attempts to make work on film sets and in theaters compliant with social distancing rules, or how authors are using virtual panels in place of conventions to promote their latest work. Rarely, however, do we talk about the pandemic’s impact on what kind of content is being created. Will book sales post-virus be dominated with tales of quarantine, or filled with fiction and fantasy allowing us to escape our recent global trauma?
Generally, the romance genre sees the highest rise in sales during periods of societal struggle. People rarely want to be reminded of the trials of current life when seeking relaxation or entertainment, so when times are tough stories about war, dystopias, or zombie-viruses likely hit too close to home. Instead, most readers turn to books filled with more individual-level struggles like love triangles or relationship woes. Others may pick up old favorites for the comfort of nostalgia, or fantasy novels where the constraints of the real world are absent.
Past trends also indicate that the consumption of escapist writing will continue for some time after the pandemic ends. Books about other large-scale tragedies like 9/11 usually don’t find much success on the market until years after the event has occurred. While it’s safe to assume that many writers will draw on their experiences during the pandemic to inspire future stories, we’re not likely to see these books hit the shelves until years later.