Genre fiction of all kinds has flourished in recent years, and fantasy has been particularly strong--helped by Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, but much deeper, too, evidenced most recently by strong anticipation and sales for new books by George R.R. Martin, Robert Jordan, and Christopher Paolini.
BN buyer James Killen tells USA Today, "Fantasy makes up roughly half the sales in the science-fiction/fantasy section of Barnes & Noble, and the lion's share of that is 'epic' or 'heroic' fantasy - adventures of huge scale told over numerous volumes. On average, we've seen annual increases over the last few years in the area of 10% to 15%." And Borders'sci-fi and fantasy buyer Micha Hershman adds, "We have seen a double-digit increase in sales this year over the same period last year."