Doorways or appeal charactertistics

updated on new wiki 9 August 2019
Knowing that a person reads a particular author or genre does not give you the information about why they enjoy reading them. The why is important as the why opens up possibilities for other reading referrals, and for increasing the satisfaction of the reader with your selection for them. For example someone may like to read crime writing and they read it because they enjoy the detectives and their personalities (or the criminals and their personalities), or they read for how the language is used, or the descriptions of the locations of the crimes, or the actual story of the process of trying to solve the crime. They also might like reading about murders which are not described in graphic detail, or only ones with every last blood splatter carefully described.

Appeal characteristics are simply what makes the book, film, game or recording appeal to the reader, watcher, player or listener. It is the hook which draws people into the work, and which keeps them engaged. There are numerous ways of interpreting this, but the focus here is on the appeal characteristics suggested by Nancy Pearl.
Nancy Pearl divides appeal characteristics into four categories which she calls doorways as they are 'the doorways into the book'. They are character, language, setting and story. Just because someone is drawn to read something because of the characters does not necessarily mean they will have no interest in the language, setting and story of the work, and vice-versa. They may be interested in them or they may not. For some works each doorway will be equally strong, but for most one doorway will predominate.


During the 2010 RA seminar: Murder in the Metcalfe we briefly discussed the difference between Genre as the structure of a book and Doorway as the effect of reading a book. What do you think?