Today, for your delectation, three different links kindly supplied to us by assorted members of the bitchery, and a little bit of drive-by snark to go with each:
Item the First: An article in Publishers’ Weekly asks: Why don’t indie bookstores carry series romance novels?
Two possible answers to that, neither of them mutually exclusive:
1. Indie bookstores tend to be snobbish. The ones staffed largely by book-loving nerds with college degrees, like Powell’s Books here in Portland, are the worst. They take pride in being different, they take pride in stocking the relatively obscure and hard-to-find, and they take pride in excellence in literary taste. Romance novels, to their mind, are none of those things, much less series romances, with their lurid titles.
Not that luridness is always a bad thing, but newly-released series romances are far too new to have nostalgic camp cachet, the way pulp thrillers, westerns and stroke books do. Hipsters and book geeks may display pulp westerns, SF and pornographic novels on their bookshelves with no shame, but most wouldn’t be caught dead with a romance novel. Romance novels are embarrassing, not kitschy.
It leads to a vicious cycle, too: A while back, I remember reading an article about Powell’s Books, and the reporter asked the owner, Michael Powell, why the dearth in romance novels in the store. He shrugged and said something like “Our customers don’t seem to ask for them all that much.” That’s as may be, but I know I’ve headed into Powell’s several times looking to buy a specific romance novel, only to walk right back out again with empty hands, and then giving my dollars to an Evil Chain like Amazon or Borders because they DID stock what I wanted. I wonder how many other readers like me have done the same thing? Nowadays, I don’t bother doing my romance shopping at Powell’s; I just go straight to a chain bookstore or order them on-line instead.
2. Limited shelfspace. This isn’t perhaps as big a problem for behemoths like Powell’s, but many of the smaller stores have little real estate on their shelves, and they need to stock only what sells. In certain neighborhoods, or for bookstores that try to appeal to certain niches, stocking series romance novels just isn’t practical, since so many of them are released every year.
Next item: Alessia Brio links to a news story in which a woman’s romance novel-writing past is biting her in the ass in her bid to run for state comptroller of Texas. Sort of. Except not really, because Susan Combs, the comptroller-candidate-cum-former-romance-novelist, has a huge budget and her opponent, who’s apparently making a big fuss over the trashy pornography she wrote? Has no money. Really, his indignation over the glorification of pre-marital sex in romance novels makes me shake my head and wonder how old he was before he got any.
Other minor details: Combs’ spokesperson dismissed the book as a “paint-by-numbers formula writing,” and certain phrases in the article made me wonder how accurately the reporter for this particular article was reporting the situation.
And now for something completely different: The Goku-Lytton awards for Worst Opening Lines of Erotic Fan-Fiction. Be sure to have several pairs of spare pants nearby, for you will pee them when you read some of these parodies.