Washington Times: Ebook Readers Avoid Asshats

DeceptionThe Washington Times takes a look at buying romance online instead of facing snide comments at bookshops, and beings by taking a look at the top sellers for the Kindle, and guess which is tops?

Yeah, the cover gave it away – the free Samhain download of Sharon Cullen’s Deception topped the list.

Malle Vallik is quoted extensively, as well as members of online communities and romance reviewers like Rebecca Baumann of DirtySexyBooks.com who use the Kindle to hide their book covers and avoid the nasty commentary. Ah, the joy of ebook readers, where the horrific atrocities of some ebook covers don’t really matter.

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General Bitching...

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  1. 1
    jmc says:

    Er, the article is in the Washington Times, not the Post.  Two very different papers.

  2. 2
    SB Sarah says:

    What? What what? What Post? No post in that post.

    *headdesk* sorry about that.

  3. 3

    I was about to say the same thing, jmc.  They’re about as different as two papers could be.

  4. 4
    MLM says:

    Wow.  The only person who ever made a snarky comment while I was buying a romance was my dad and that was in 1977 when I was 13.  “The Notorious Angel” by Patricia Maxwell.  It was the first romance I ever bought—everything else I had been borrowing from a friend of my mom’s. 

    On the other hand, relatives, friends and random strangers waiting in the same restaurant seem to thing they can make snarky comments freely.  Which is one of the reasons I keep a cloth cover on my books.  The other is because I carry books in my purse, which is like a rock tumbler for everything that goes in it.  And if some brave soul does ask me what I’m reading, I usually tell them a pocket edition of the New Testament. (Which, I am reading, just not out of my purse).

  5. 5
    Jessica G. says:

    But that doesn’t mean I don’t want a cover! I get sad when my ebooks are lacking them. I know it probably has to do with rights, but geez, I need love too!

  6. 6
    GrowlyCub says:

    Can’t say I’m thrilled with this article.  From ‘bodice ripper’ to ‘hide our guilty pleasure’ it hits all the stereotypes and then some.

    It’s depressing me that so many people want to hide their reading preferences.  What about standing up for yourself and being proud instead of cowering in the corner with the equivalent of a brown bag?  Oh well…

  7. 7
    Liz in Australia says:

    I have never thought about hiding my covers since I was borrowing 10 M&B a week from the local library when I was 12. I was so sure I’d be told I couldn’t borrow them I would open the covers to the barcode and then slip them in my bag without the cover showing. *giggle*
    This was the 70’s so I don’t think the covers were very revealing. The characters didn’t have sex, that I can recall. I was shocked when I picked them up in the 90’s. Whoa baby!

    Now I read in loads of public places and I just don’t care. No-one tells me what to read, or not!!

  8. 8
    MichelleR says:

    It always amazes me to read or hear that people are harassed over this. It’s never occurred to me to be ashamed of my purchases and I would hate to be the bookstore employee who tried, because I would make a case of it. 

    Teachers in school would call me on my reading choices, but I knew they were wrong, and that if they wanted me to be like my moron peers rather than have me read a romance that they were seriously in the wrong profession. At the time I thought they were more concerned about a minor reading about sex than disdainful of the genre, because I lived in a household of romance novel readers.

    I read V.C. Andrews on the bus to Catholic School, and I’ll admit I was a little more surreptitious in that case. ::grin::

    As an adult, the only person who tried to shame me over reading is my M-I-L. It wasn’t so much reading romance as just reading too much in general.

    Anyhow, I was well into my adulthood before I really noticed there was a true stigma. A few misconceptions, that I knew, but not that people were made to feel uncomfortable.

  9. 9
    Michele says:

    I don’t care what most people think of my reading selection- but when I’m on a trip with my students, I use cloth book covers because my reading choice is none of their business.  I’m not ashamed of what I read- I enjoy it like some people enjoy certain genres of movies.  However, the teasing over certain titles gets old (left a book in the hubby’s car)- if they thought “Honeymoon with a Stranger” was bad, I’d hate to see what they would have done with a Presents title!

  10. 10
    daisy says:

    It amazes me to hear others say that booksellers comment on their reading choices or give them snide looks about them – I have never had that experience.  Either that or I just don’t pay any attention, which could be the case.

    About ebook covers – if you are looking for some to snark on, check out Jaid Black’s Trek covers.  The ones with the glowing eyes and big, big, big bosoms.

  11. 11
    Edie says:

    I mainly get carp thrown at me cos of my sexuality and reading romance novels.. but this is generally from people who are glued to the tabloids and that is their main sort of reading.. so I am fairly comfortable in saying up ya nose!

  12. 12
    Grace says:

    Doing a little plug here.  I read Rebecca’s website http://www.dirtysexybooks.com pretty much everyday.  She updates it daily with a review of a book and we’re just about to embark on our first on-line book club.  She’s also giving away from ARC.  Finally, Rebecca is pretty great.

  13. 13
    EC Sheedy says:

    I’ve never heard so much as a snicker when I’ve bought romances in a bookstore or anywhere else. But as an author in a restaurant, I can tell this story:

    I was with another writer friend having lunch. We both had new releases, and we’d both brought copies along to the lunch, passing them back and forth across the table, yakking about covers etc. The waitress commented on what we were doing, and my friend told her that we were both romance writers, just looking at each other’s books. She got quite excited , then said, “No s—-! I love reading that trash!”

    Proves you can find a good putdown no matter where you go!  :-)

  14. 14
    teacupnosaucer says:

    I’m completely unabashed about my reading material. I’m a smart, confidant woman, and anyone who thinks they can make a snide comment about my reading choices and get away with it because they think I’m mentally inferior to them just because I happen to like some man-titty has another thing coming. I can and do defend what I read. It takes a very special kind of cowardly, ill-informed snob to pick on someone for their reading choices, and I’m all-too-willing to remind them of that fact, if they decide that they’re going to get into it with me.

    Luckily, most people are more amused or surprised by my tastes than judgemental. Otherwise, my blood pressure would be through the roof.

  15. 15
    SB Sarah says:

    I’m definitely unabashed but have received comments before. Usually I just blink at the clerk until they realize – if they do.

    But I’ve absolutely had snide comments made to me on the subway. You’d think people would have a better sense of self-preservation than to remark upon the reading material of an uncaffeinated person on the subway, but apparently not.

    It takes a very special kind of cowardly, ill-informed snob to pick on someone for their reading choices, and I’m all-too-willing to remind them of that fact, if they decide that they’re going to get into it with me.

    MWAH. Come sit with me, please!

  16. 16
    kinseyholley says:

    Klimt!  That’s what the cover looks like – a really really bad Gustav Klimt!

    Shit.  It’s been bugging me for days.

  17. 17

    I found my way over to this delightful conversation and now that I’m here I can’t resist commenting too.  I thought the article put a fairly positive slant on a disturbing topic.  The feminist in me (yeah, hard-core – I was this close to majoring in Women’s Studies during my college days) really hates the idea that any woman would be cowed or embarrassed by her reading choices.  However, the realist in me acknowledges that some sad, ignorant souls view romances as trashy or *gasp*, the work of the devil.  Just yelling at fellow fans to buck up isn’t enough; we need to change the mindset of society at large, and I feel pretty confident that will happen eventually.  No one bags on the mindless masses who go to R-rated movies that are chock full of sex, violence, and fantasy.  Why should a romance novel be any different?

  18. 18
    SonomaLass says:

    The only books I would hesitate to read in public are the truly erotic romances—I spend a lot of time in venues with children, and I wouldn’t be comfortable flashing those covers.  But I never read highly erotic material in public situations anyway; that’s private reading matter for me.

    For most romance, I enjoy getting most people’s reactions.  Often I get or give recommendations about specific authors and titles, or just share a moment of mutual “don’t you love …?” that brightens my day.  Once in a while I get a “teachable moment,” or a chance to correct a misconception.  Of course if the snarky remark is about the cover art, I usually just laugh and say, “That’s nothing!  Have you seen the one where the girl has three hands, or the one with a unicorn coming out of her ass?”

    I think the large number of books we want to buy, and the desire to always have a fresh one (or two, or three) standing by, explains the e-reader/romance reader congruence more than shame does.

  19. 19
    Anj says:

    On the other side: while I don’t actually own an e-reader, I can see how nice it would be to hide some covers.
    Not necessarily the clinches or the man titty… but there are some covers I don’t need to see, let alone some unsuspecting person who glances at my book. Shirtless – Who hasn’t seen that on tv, but Artistically Naked – A little risque.
    Also, I feel bad about dragging that around and tend to leave it at home.

  20. 20
    Jenns says:

    I usually don’t hear any comments, snide or otherwise. Usually the clerks seem pretty bored – well, I’m sure they’ve seen it all and are eager to go home – and barely glance at anything other than the price scanner.

    The worst remarks I’ve heard are from other customers, actually.
    I remember one, in the mid-nineties, saying – glaring at me the whole time: “Only people with no lives read that stupid trash.”

    She didn’t even give me a chance for a comeback, darn it. She immediately turned on her heel and stalked off with her friend.

    Oh, well. No matter. I picked my “stupid trash” of choice and eagerly looked forward to being a “person with no life”.

  21. 21
    dangrgirl says:

    Speaking of snide comments in bookshops, when I bought my copy of Heaving Bosoms, the check out lady said something like “Love the title, but I don’t read Romance.” To which I replied “Oh you poor thing!”

  22. 22
    Kathy says:

    When I went to get a copy fo Heaving Bosoms, of course, it wasn’t there.  I live in the boonies.  But, the nice lady said that it should be there cause they sell alot of romance.  And those who read romance would want a book like this.  So, yeah! for SBTB and creating this format for romance.

  23. 23
    Edie says:

    I think the large number of books we want to buy, and the desire to always have a fresh one (or two, or three) standing by, explains the e-reader/romance reader congruence more than shame does.

    Certainly does in my case, or the fact that I am on the opposite side of the world to where most of romance is released, and ebooks are cheaper on postage..

  24. 24
    Jody W. says:

    I had a clerk complain to me about how she decided to lower herself to try to write one of “those books” so she could get published more easily but was disheartened because they were such trash. This was when I was buying romances and had just told her I wrote them.

    My sister grabbed my arm and tried to get me to leave but I said, “Now why would you say that to me when I just told you I wrote those books?”

    Clerkie gaped and said, “I’m sure YOURS are fine, but XYZ NYT Bestseller, her stuff is just so bad.”

    Since XYZ NYT Bestseller is a friend of mine, at that point I did just tell her good luck on getting published because we’d all be so lucky as to be in even one of my friend’s shoes.

  25. 25
    Suze says:

    As an adult, the only person who tried to shame me over reading is my M-I-L. It wasn’t so much reading romance as just reading too much in general.

    Huh?  What, are you spending too little time darning her wee darling’s socks? Bad wife!

    What is reading TOO MUCH?  That sounds like an oxymoron or something.  Some kind of moron, anyway…

  26. 26
    AgTigress says:

    I am stunned to hear that not only bookshop staff (who should be rejoicing about making a sale, regardless of the nature of the book), but also, incredibly, fellow commuters, sometimes comment on people’s reading choices in the US!  I can tell you, any commuter on the London Underground would be outraged to be addressed in any way whatsoever by another, except in the case of a tourist asking for help, or some dire emergency.

    What conceivable business is it of anyone else’s, what book a perfect stranger is reading?  Surely people don’t tap other commuters on the shoulder and make comments on their style of dress or other aspects of their personal appearance?  (‘Excuse me, but you really should get your hair cut and re-styled.  It’s a mess as it is at the moment…’)  Commenting on reading matter is just as rude and intrusive as that would be.

    Frankly, I think that would be the best comeback. ‘You don’t think much of my book?  Well, I can’t say that I admire your outfit, either’.

  27. 27
    Susan D. says:

    I think Kindles are popular for romance readers for two reasons:
    Many of us expect to be disparaged for our book choices, and volume—it’s a whole lot easier to carry a kindle than half a dozen books. I’d have one if they were cheaper. I’m not spending that amount of money on a Kindle.

    FWIW, I don’t receive any weird reactions from bookclerks when I buy romances. At one store near me a bookseller—a huge Patricia Briggs fan—usually recommends other books based on what I’ve picked up.

    The people who do comment on my reading of romances are usually surprised friends. They say is “you read romances?!” or “*you* read romances?!” or “you read…*romances*?!” Then they ask why, usually with genuine curiosity. Any hangups about their reactions are entirely my own.

  28. 28
    bounababe says:

    This one finally had me logging in instead of lurking. I always got comments from my family. Two older brothers and avid readers of “literature” for parents can make one a little hesitant to discuss a favorite Nora Roberts over the dinner table. If a book review doesn’t confirm that the tome is “poignant and touching”, then my mother considers it to be trash. I grew out of hiding, around 35 or so, but still don’t discuss books with them. I use my ereader for the same reasons as Susan D. I can carry a hell of a lot of books on there. I fly a lot, and it’s easier to use my reader than deal with the looks I get from the other passengers around me, who are primarily balding paunchy men who read spy novels. It was on one of these flights that I realized that the men’s spy novel and my trashy book serve the same purpose, except that there is more of a chance that I will have hot monkey sex with a good looking man than the fat accountant next to me has of foiling a terrorist plot and saving the world.

  29. 29
    Flo says:

    You know I’ve gotten comments by people looking at my book stack.  But it’s never ever ever ever been snide.

    Honestly, I think this “SHAME FOR READING ROMANCE” thing is in a lot of peoples heads.  Especially the media and feminazis who want to ruin it for the rest of us.  Semi-normal people just don’t really give a shit.

    I hate both Washington Papers.  Their snobbery knows no bounds.  Considering both have been whining about being “Greener” they should be squealing IN JOY about people using a Kindle.  Rather than making more paper.  BUT NOOOOOOOOO!  They have to use it to shame someone.  Ridiculous!~

  30. 30
    MichelleR says:

    I mentioned this on Twitter, but Keith Olbermann while making fun of Sanford’s emails to his mistress, complete with typos, said he could have a career as a Harlequin writer—and that 44-year-old depressed housewives vote too.

    So, yeah…

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