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Monday, August 31, 2020

Resource Alert: Criminal Element

Genre blending is so pervasive that it is hard to find resources that are genre specific and yet represent the breadth of what readers of said genre are actually looking for as they look for a good read.

Readers who like "crime stories" are the best example. Some "crime" readers like mysteries only, while others read thrillers, adventure, and suspense [adrenaline genres]. But within those genres there is also a huge range of violence and tone. 

There are also readers for who "crime" means psychological suspense with its unreliable narrators, common open endings, and even despicable protagonists  [which can drive traditional mystery and adrenaline genre readers crazy, especially those who crave a colder ending and the "good" protagonist coming out happy and rewarded].

Others crave true crime. And all of this is without touching the format issue-- tv, movies, podcasts OR the fact that dozens of new "crime" titles come out every single week all year long.

It can be quite overwhelming especially as we help long-time fans who think they have "read everything you have." If we use the same old resources, it might seem like that is true to us too. [Hint: it is not.]

The only thing I can say for certain is always true about all "crime" readers is while they seem to be willing to consume any crime story, they actually do have very specific tastes, they just aren't sure how to articulate them beyond saying, "I like [enter series or author name here]."

There are so many great mystery and crime based resources, and tons of readalike lists available for us to use, but very few places give it all to you in one place like Criminal Element. This resource considers the general appeal of a story featuring a crime and looks at it with a team of writers that cover the FULL spectrum all in one place. There definition is very broad, even including horror where applicable. By featuring such a broad range of crime options, this allows us, the library worker, to also consider more options for our readers, options a traditional thriller or mystery resource alone would not provide.

I particularly like that they have both "Cozy Corner" and True Crime sections. These are two areas where my readers cannot get enough and I am always running out of new ideas. And again, when you look at those specific sections they consider all formats which is so helpful. "Readers" can want more than just books with their favorite kind of story, and we carry multiple formats.

I also like how they have essays about the crime genre. Those are archived here. I have used this archive to identify new authors and even tropes. For example, this recent essay by author Vanessa Savage about  Fairy Tales as Crime Stories. The concept is an awesome booklist/display idea for sure. But there is a vast backlist of essays to choose from. Take this essay from 2018 entitled, "Real-Life Lady Criminals of   Historical Fiction." Again, instant display/digital list idea!

You can use the 22 pages[!] of  essays to spark ideas for new ways to market some of the most popular books on your shelves.

Head on over to take a look for yourself. Because seriously, crime fiction along with romance, is our bread and butter, and yet, we allow some great older titles to languish in the stacks. We have SO MANY crime books, it is hard to remember all but the most recent or most popular authors. 

Let the resources help you and give your patrons a surprise, whether that is a great outside the box suggestion or a totally new and fresh display.

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