The Growth of Fiction

Carey & Lea sold The Atlantic Souvenir to S.G. Goodrich of New York in 1832, who combined it with his famous Token. David Kaser interprets this as a "one of the few cases when [Carey's] judgement erred," (15) for this was at the peak of the annual vogue, a vogue which would carry well into the 1850's. However, perhaps Carey had another reason.

After a year without an annual, 1832, Carey & Lea had enough authors to go in a big way into Christmas-targeted fiction in 1833 by more than doubling production from the year before, and tripling the number of novels from their Christmas annual years. The annuals had opened up another market: the market for books as Christmas gifts.(16)

Fiction Titles Produced(17)
18221823182418251826 18271828182918301831 18321833183418351836
529661617 13111115361636 43

Other genre categories which showed increases during these years (1833-1836) were travel literature and biography, both of which are arguably "popular" forms,

Genre 18221823182418251826 18271828182918301831 18321833183418351836
Travel 5242357 3334848 10
Biography 4326543 2044215 4

while other the genres showed either consistent drops in output, or fluctuations:

Genre 18221823182418251826 18271828182918301831 18321833183418351836
History 2220231 53115448 4
Law 8202212 0100000 1
Medicine 4569986 81416167511 7
Theology, Philosophy 3221023 0021824 9
Poetry, Drama 3324215 1221212 0
School Books, Juveniles 0102501 1167735 3
Science, Mechanics 2002300 2169427 6
Commerce, Economics 5582720 0013003 0

None of the other genres showed a scale of growth compared to fiction. The chart, "Comparison of Fiction Titles Against the Median of all Other Categories, 1822-1838," shows this process. Fiction, which had been above median in the period 1822 to 1826, took a more important role in the period 1827 to 1832 (the period of the Christmas annuals), but exploded in the period 1833 to 1838. Within the space of a few years, Carey & Lea had transitioned from being a major publisher of medical and science texts to a major publisher of novels.