New research published by the Orange Prize for Fiction reveals that women still have to work twice as hard as men to get their books read by the opposite sex.

Additionally men will often pass over books written by men if the choice of cover design or title indicates that it is a ‘female read’ regardless of subject matter.

The research [in which twenty books were shown to 200 respondents – male and female] was commissioned to address the following questions:

How important is the gender of the author in our choice of books?

To what extent are particular authors’ books perceived as being written mainly for women, for men or for both and on what basis is this judgement made?

Do books written by women have to ‘work harder’ to sell to men than vice-versa?

Respondents — who were chosen to be a nationally representative selection of adults who read literary fiction — were shown front and back covers of 20 titles and asked to categorise them as intended to be read i) mainly by men ii) mainly by women iii) by both about equally. In addition, focus groups were used for qualitative research