Check this crowd sourced ranking of popular books by grimdark score:
(click for detail)
My most recent books are less grimdark than N.K Jemisin's debut and barely more grimdark than David Eddings' Pawn of Prophecy. So while folks may accuse me of being defensive on the topic, really it's simple curiosity.
I've noticed recently a spate of internet condemnation not only of the "evils" of grimdark but of the arrogance of its readers who apparently look down on other fantasy, somehow claiming an intellectual high ground.
This seems bizarre to me on many levels and other than possibly the imminence of a new book by Joe Abercrombie I'm at a loss to explain the timing. It's almost as if a small group of agitators are stalking among the cyber crowd comic-book style, rattling pitchforks here, raising a cry of "they're after your jobs/significant others/livestock" there. Have Russian bots decided to foment a new round of grimdark wars? 😀
The truth is that grimdark fantasy never occupied a large portion of fantasy book sales, and what small percentage it held ten years ago has been steadily eroding. It's been a long time since a book widely accepted as grimdark has sold more than a few thousand copies, while the big hitters in fantasy are selling hundreds of thousands and even millions per book. Really, I would be very surprised if grimdark fantasy books accounted for more than 1% of all fantasy book sales today, and I doubt it was more than 5% a decade ago.
And yet you still hear - and far more often in the month just gone - posters on forums lamenting that their favourite fantasy has been pushed off the shelves by those terrible torture-porn books. You still hear them trying to other grimdark readers in an attempt to create some sort of enemy/whipping boy. These arrogant grimdark readers are looking down their noses at you, fellow forum dwellers, they think our books are intellectually lacking because of … optimism.
At times it feels like an organised witch hunt by a group seeking to leverage the flamewar they're hoping to create in order to promote the even tinier subgenre invented a couple of years ago supposedly to "fight back" against grimdark.
The thing is that the vast majority of readers who read grimdark books also read a vast amount of other fantasy. And that's hardly the action of readers who sneer at all but the topmost novels on my grimdark chart.
So to conclude: Grimdark is not, and never has been, crowding any type of fantasy off the shelves. It was only ever a small presence and has been in steady decline. It's readers are omnivorous and not some kind of sect that disdain your favourite genre. And although from time to time some pundit wanting to bang a gong about moralist reading or to promote some other flavour of books sets up a fictitious grimmer-that-thou book to rail against, the novels they're describing in such cases don't actually exist.