Top Five Things You Didn’t Know About Romance Readers - and Watchung Books

Watchung Booksellers Before I left for my booksigning and talk at Watchung Booksellers, I asked Ye Olde Twitter Wise People for help with my presentation. The bookshop folks didn’t want me to read from the book as much as they preferred a talk about the book – which I’m totally down with.

So I said, “What are the top five things you didn’t know about romance readers. In case you missed the complete list, here’s a recap:

5. We are smart. We are educated. We have conferences in Princeton and one of the best peer-support writers orgs in business. We are not dumb.

4.

We are NOT your grandma.

We are not exactly like your Grandma. We’re not even exactly alike. We are women of all ages from every country. (My apologies to JoanneL for unintentional slight. My bad!)

And while many dismiss us as disconnected and isolated, we are not. We’re often on the cutting edge of technology. Biggest ebook pioneer? HQN. And: We are not all WOMEN. (Angela James gave me that last bit – excellent point)

3. We spend money. Publishing banks on the success of romance because it sells to the tune of $1,7b (2007 RWA) so thank rom that u have books.

2. WE DO NOT LIKE THE COVERS EITHER SO LAY OFF WITH THE BODICE RIPPING JOKES, K?

1. We. Are. Everywhere. You could be one & not know it. We hate when folks put us down & we’d LOVE to intro you to a great romance novel.

Watchung Booksellers is a small and delicious smelling (NOM BOOKS NOM) independent bookshop in Montclair. If I had to sum up their stock in one word, I’d say, “Trade.” They carry a LOT of trade paperback fiction, and a lot of it is literary fiction, with a shelf for science fiction, mystery, and books on a featured theme. Behind the counter were many books on Jersey traveling and walking – local staycation reading that looked really good. And then the children’s section was to die for. It’s adjacent to the YA, too, so there’s a lot of good reading for kids and adolescents in the back half of the store. And did I mention the smell?

Interestingly enough, I learned from Margot, who was running the show this evening, that while romance as a genre doesn’t sell there very much, a good number of romance authors frequent the store. I am wondering who, and what they buy!

A great group of women came to the talk, including TWO ladies, Tamar and Katherine, who put their clothes back on after changing into their jammies, then remembering that I was at Watchung Booksellers tonight. AND another brave soul, Julie, I think, attended who hasn’t slept in weeks because she’s in the middle of law school finals (no, not Candy but I imagine she is in about the same state). I was really floored by that kind of dedication. I mean, finals? Putting clothes on after changing into jammies? WOW. Thank you.

Two of the women who attended came because they’d been at the Princeton conference and wanted to meet me and hear more about the Bosoms – which is awesome. And Katiebabs came after rushing home from work – and yes, her haircut is exceptionally awesome. I was totally jealous of it.

Interestingly, none of the women there said they were romance writers, but they were all avid readers. One woman told me she was a big fan of suspense and contemporary, and loved finding new contemporary authors. She’s in a mom’s group and only three of them “admit” to reading romance – but score for her because when one of them received a giant bag of romances, it was divided among the three of them by interest. (Dude. I want to be in that mom’s group.)

After I talked a bit about the things you didn’t know about romance readers – to a group of romance readers who probably already knew all of those things! – I asked what books they’d read and enjoyed, romance or otherwise. That was my favorite part: talking about books with book fans once it was clear that they can admit to loving books that they might get mocked for enjoying should they saw so elsewhere. Edith, who had been in the store when I arrived picking up an order she’d placed, told the group that she was part of a book club with two male members and there had been some debate as to whether their latest pick, Astrid and Veronica, was too girly. Edith didn’t think so, and the folks who were concerned were outvoted. Heh.

I’ve only done three booksignings at stores, but the part I love best is when people who come talk about what books they like, or what books they’d like to read, and everyone starts suggesting books or recommending similar authors. When like-minded readers who share a common interest (like really good books, and not just romance) start talking about books, it’s just delicious. Thank you to Watchung Books and to the awesome ladies who came out tonight for a truly excellent evening. I am so pleased I got to meet all of you.

Categorized:

General Bitching...

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  1. 1
    Mads says:

    I usually lurk but I just got so excited I have to comment.

    I ordered my copy and it arrived last week- I squeed. I finished it in a day, teasing my fellow bitch loving friend and handed it over to her today. How I enjoyed making comments like ‘I have my heaving bosoms with me’ and ‘You’ll love my heaving bosoms’ and getting suspicious looks in public.

    Anyway- not my point.  Here in Melbourne, Australia I didn’t think the Smart Bitches were very well known HOWEVER … I was just listening to the old people/smart people radio station I like and the Sunday presenter had a promo and said ‘We’re talking to two young women in the US who have written a book called Beyond Heaving Bosoms- a smart bitches guide to romance novels.’ OH MY GOD. My poor dogs thought I was having some sort of a fit.
    a) Candy and Sarah will be on radio HERE in Australia.
    b) YOU SPOKE TO ALAN BROUGH? I LOVE THAT GUY.
    Caps aside- very, very awesome.

  2. 2
    SB Sarah says:

    Nope – that’s… ok, behold my brain melting because of time zones. I’m going to post on this later today but Candy and I will be on the radio in Melbourne Sunday morning for Aussies (Saturday night for me, at like, 930pm).

    We are SO excited. I told Alan’s show folks that I’d get up at 3am to talk to Australia if I had to.

    So tune in. Rare around the world dual interview of the Bitches.

  3. 3
    Liz in Australia says:

    Mads – where did you order your copy from? I’ve put in an order to “Rendezvous” but they haven’t got it in yet. I can’t wait! What time is the interview (Melbourne time)?

  4. 4
    Sarah says:

    We are young and tech savvy

    We so are! I love this list!

  5. 5
    Leeann Burke says:

    I love your top 5. It is oh so true.

    Mads, enjoy the interview for us not living in Australia. I watched Sarah on the Steven and Chris Show (The show is now on permanent hiatus – darn). She was hillarious and even had Chris blushing a few times.

  6. 6
    Melissa says:

    3. We spend money. Publishing banks on the success of romance because it sells to the tune of $1,7b (2007 RWA) so thank rom that u have books.

    This!  It keeps bugging me that a capitalistic society can sneer so much at a group of readers that keep our economy going.  Without romance, I’m sure the paperback market would be a hell of a lot weaker, if not dead altogether.

  7. 7
    JoanneL says:

    We are NOT your grandma. We are young and tech savvy

    Well, yes and no.

    Some of us are your grandma and are not young and definitely are not tech savvy. I know your cup runnith over with readers to represent Sarah but please beat the drum for all of us.

    It behooves those who want us *choke* ‘elders’ to buy their ebooks—- and they should be legion since many of us finally have considerable free time to read, post to blogs & book sites and money to spend on books—- to make it easier for us to purchase & read ebooks.

    And yes, like grandma, we are everywhere and we are not the women you thought we were.

  8. 8
    shuzluva says:

    WE DO NOT LIKE THE COVERS EITHER SO LAY OFF WITH THE BODICE RIPPING JOKES, K?

    YES! No top 5 list can be complete without a mention of covers. Thank you.

    On another note, I really wanted to come, but had another commitment and am so disappointed I had to miss it. Will you be doing more in the area? There’s an independent bookstore in West Caldwell right next to Kings (hint, hint). I really, really would love to participate…and have my book signed! Wow, that was total fangurl and I can’t stop myself.

  9. 9
    Elaine says:

    @JoanneL:

    I’m not a grandmother (though old enough) and quite tech saavy.  I still love to read romances.

    Yes, involved63!

  10. 10

    LOVE your list…THANK you very much!!!

  11. 11
    snarkhunter says:

    I was mocking reading DH Lawrence to a friend last night, and was delighted to discover that the heroine’s bosom was literally heaving during the climactic (heh) love scene.

    To which I say, HAH! DH Lawrence has heaving bosoms, yet romance readers have bad taste?

    (I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s nearly impossible to take good old Davie seriously. He’s like bad fic.)

  12. 12
    Elizabeth Wadsworth says:

    Cold Comfort Farm (book and movie) is a great spoof of DH Lawrence and his imitators.  I recommend!

  13. 13
    SB Sarah says:

    @JoanneL You are correct and I apologize. Certainly women of every age read romance. Thanks for reminding me – I’ll edit that now.

    I’m sorry.

  14. 14
    Julie says:

    Sarah,  I really enjoyed meeting you last night.  Thanks for understanding my semi-coherence.  I definitely needed sleep, but it was nice to meet you and to get away from the books for awhile (for other, more enjoyable books).  Usually, I just lurk here, but I wanted to thank you.  I’ve gotten many great suggestions to feed my reading addiction on your site, and last night.

  15. 15
    Lori says:

    Cold Comfort Farm (book and movie) is a great spoof of DH Lawrence and his imitators.  I recommend!

    I second Elizabeth’s recommendation. Cold Comfort Farm is very funny, especially for those familiar with the material that inspired it.

  16. 16
    Tamar says:

    Much fun was had by all.  Sarah gives good chat, personable and entertaining, and was very welcoming.  Good give and take.

  17. 17
    StephanieL says:

    I love number one! We. Are. Everytwhere.  So true.

  18. 18
    JoanneL says:

    Holy shit Sarah, you rock, and Thank You.

    Seriously I love you in a
    not-going-to-show-up-in-your-driveway kind of way.

    If I could have one re-do in the romance book section of a store it’s the time I smirked at an elderly gentleman who said he was browsing for his wife. Who the fu@k was I to be smirking at a romance reader? I will ALWAYS regret not having a conversation with him about the genre I love.

    @Elaine: I’m trying but the technology moves on before I can catch up, lol!

  19. 19
    Courtney says:

    Don’t go slammin’ D.H. Lawrence!  Lady Chatterley’s Lover is in my top 5 romance novels of all time.  I finished that one, turned right back to the first page, and started again.  Not to be missed, dissed, or dismissed!

  20. 20
    SonomaLass says:

    Count another D.H. Lawrence fan.  Both Sons and Lovers and Women In Love are favorites of mine.  And Oliver Reed in the film adaptation of Women In Love?  Hot, hot, hot!!

    Not a grandma yet, but it can’t be too far away.  At least I will hit 50 first, which is more than I allowed my mother to do.  As for technology, I attempt to master it (mistress it?), but I will NOT be its servant.  When I feel it trying to take over my life, I switch it off.  So I’m not always on the cutting edge, and I’m okay with that.  And I’m quite happy to keep reading printed books, with occasional PDF on my laptop, until the market settles the issue of competing formats.

    Yes, we are of all kinds, varied in our ages, tastes, and interests.  We even sometimes don’t like the same romances—what a shock!  But there are a lot of us, and we do spend a lot of money on books. We are also smart.  And some of us are bitches.

  21. 21
    jenifer says:

    You do absolutely rock for taking JoanneL’s statement and adapting for it! I share many, many, many of my romance novels with my mom (who could be a Grandma except none of her kids have given her grandkids . . .) and my very dear, 70-something friend who loves them like nobody’s business. Of course, both of them are also tech-savvy (70-something friend is buying an iPhone this summer because she hates being without internet when she goes to visit her sister), but still . . . :)

  22. 22
    Mads says:

    @Liz- I got it through Amazon. I thought it would be weeks and weeks before it arrived but it came last week, I was so excited! I went to Rendezvous too and the girl hadn’t heard of it. Not sure what time the interview is on but Alan’s show is between 10 and 12 on Sunday mornings.

  23. 23
    Marisa says:

    Well, here in Spain they don’t know you either, but I’ve enjoyed a lot your book (some of the titles you mention I don’t know, of course, but it’s the same). Anyway (*blushing*) I don’t hate covers, I don’t mind them, sorry. And if people don’t like the cover of the book I’m reading, well, don’t look. And I found at Pompidou Museum bookshop in Paris, a postcards books with romance covers very funny LOL

  24. 24
    ms bookjunkie says:

    @Mads & Liz:  Have you tried http://www.bookdepository.co.uk? They have free worldwide delivery…I got my Bosoms (and a whole bunch of other books) from them. Totally happy with their service! I like the way they show what ordering from Amazon would cost me. (Whether it’s true or not—I’ve never figured out Amazon because I get a headache when I try to look at their delivery rates—so kudos to BD since I don’t have to figure out anything extra! The price I see is the price I pay. *quietly disclaiming* Of course I’m in Europe and no tax is added to my payment, either. So I guess it’s WYSIWYG-MOL.*fades into background, muttering*)

  25. 25
    Sonic says:

    ::Sheepish:: I don’t know…I have to admit that I kind of sorta really like the horrible cheesiness of the bodice rippers covers.  Like sort of A LOT.  I can’t explain it – it’s like this terrible fascination.  Probably genetic.  Don’t judge me for my love of cheese!!!

  26. 26
    snarkhunter says:

    Oh, don’t worry, I’m all over the Cold Comfort Farm wagon. I teach that book in my survey classes as a response to DHL.

  27. 27
    AgTigress says:

    Snarkhunter, I had always assumed that the chief target of Stella Gibbons’s humour in Cold Comfort Farm was Mary Webb—e.g. Precious Bane and Gone to Earth.  They were still very popular in the 1930s.  Lawrence as well, maybe, but I am sure the archetype for that kind of thing is Webb.  I haven’t read Webb, or Lawrence either, come to that, for more than 50 years, but I still re-read Cold Comfort Farm from time to time.
    :-)

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