What Happened To Men’s Adventure Novels?

So, what happened to the likes of “men’s adventure novels”? If the technothriller declined enormously after 1991, the smaller “men’s adventure” series seemingly just dissolved completely. But now, from my own readings, and from looking at Serial Vigilantes of Paperback Fiction and reviews/commentary of later “men’s adventure” books, particularly on Glorious Trash, I think I might have found it.

They did drop dramatically after the 1980s, and the reason, from pretty much everything I’ve heard and readabout, is economic. They were just too low margin. I should refer you to this post by thriller author Jack Badelaire about the details, and he brings up another reason I agree with, which is that visual media got better.

But whatever the why, what happened? Well, cheap thrillers did not stop being written by any means, as Lee Child can attest. Someone comparing Jack Reacher to a classic men’s adventure hero would find more similarities than differences. But as for those dime novels, the surviving ones sort of – shifted. A look at everything from page counts courtesy of Serial Vigilantes to review commentary to my own study finds three main things.

  • They grew longer and their MSRPs grew higher.
  • They became increasingly “militarized” for lack of a better word (another connection to technothrillers), a process that started with the team-based novels of the 1980s and grew more and more prominent.
  • They increasingly began piggybacking on the names of big-time authors.

Yes, what happened is that the men’s adventure book became the “Tom Clancy’s” book.

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