The Strange Case of the Letter “P”

Many of you know that, beginning in the early summer, I have been spending time in our adult fiction stacks, separating the general fiction collection into new reading genres.  As I have made my way through the collection, starting with pbooks by authors whose last names begin with “A”, I have noticed that books written by authors who have last names beginning with a particular letter occasionally share something in common.  There may be, for example, a larger than usual number of historical fiction titles written by authors in the “G” section.

But the most attention-getting phenomenon associated with authors’ last names is definitely related to the letter “P”.   Last names in the U.S. starting with this letter rank at #9 when listed from most prevalent to least prevalent.  Yet the shelves of “P” authors in our fiction collection easily could be called “million dollar row”.  No other letter includes as many big-name, prolific authors, living or dead.

Consider these names:  The Palmers (Catherine and Diana and Michael), the Pattersons (James and Richard North), Robert B. Parker, Frank Peretti, Tracie Peterson, Jodi Picoult, Michael Phillips, Jean Plaidy, Belva Plain, Eugenia Price, and Rosamund Pilcher.  And that’s not the entire list!

There is, of course, no logical explanation for this.  Are unseen forces at work in the literary world?  Or is it merely dumb luck?  Whatever the case, if you have an interest in writing a novel, and your last name begins with “P”, you might want to give the idea some further thought.