Romance in the New York Times

Romance is front and center, or front page, bottom right corner, in the New York Times today, with a picture of me and my dogs.

Sarah Wendell, blogger and co-author of “Beyond Heaving Bosoms,” is passionate about romance novels.

Except for the covers, with their images of sinewy limbs, flowing, Fabio-esque locks or, as she put it, “the mullets and the man chests.”

“They are not always something that you are comfortable holding in your hand in public,” Ms. Wendell said.

So she began reading e-books, escaping the glances and the imagined snickers from strangers on the subway, and joining the many readers who have traded the racy covers of romance novels for the discretion of digital books.

If the e-reader is the digital equivalent of the brown-paper wrapper, the romance reader is a little like the Asian carp: insatiable and unstoppable. Together, it turns out, they are a perfect couple. Romance is now the fastest-growing segment of the e-reading market, ahead of general fiction, mystery and science fiction, according to data from Bowker, a research organization for the publishing industry.

Not only are my dogs pictured, as well as Christina Dodd’s three-armed book cover and some other of my oldest favoritest romances, but booksellers like AllRomance.com, and publishers are included as well. But the best part is that the article is anchored by readers-  by me, and Jane from DearAuthor.

The reporter who wrote the article, Julie Bosman (congrats on your front page article Julie!), told me that so many of the Times editors are romance readers, and many of them read digitally. I don’t think this is surprising. With all the bad news and unfortunate stories that get published in a newspaper, happy endings must be a welcome and awesome reading choice. I am totally curious which books are among their favorites – but I’m also going to recommend a romance novel for Bosman to try, too. Yay for good press for Romance!

ETA: I have been asked for a Asian Carp Borg shirt. Ahoy, here it is:

 

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  1. 1
    Tabithaz says:

    Congratulations!  That’s awesome news, for you, for Romance, for Jane, for Julie Bosman, and of course your dogs!  Yay!

  2. 2

    My son and my niece sent me links to this article early this morning.  They know ebook sales have been very good for me, and it’s only going to get better. 

    Now I have to think of a good promo for digital editions.  It’s hard to jam my bookmarks into those tiny slots.[g]

  3. 3
    lorelai says:

    As a romance reader AND someone who has done a little research on Asian Carp, I love their reference combining the two: If the e-reader is the digital equivalent of the brown-paper wrapper, the romance reader is a little like the Asian carp: insatiable and unstoppable.

    Congrats, Sarah!

  4. 4
    Lora says:

    YAY! Hurrah!

  5. 5
    Sarah W says:

    What a great article! 

    We may be insatiable and unstoppable, but I don’t think we’re particularly invasive . . . are we?

    Of course, some of us are good at convincing people to try a romance novel or two . . . but that’s assimilation.

    Oh, wow—-we’re Asian Carp Borg!

  6. 6
    Jayne says:

    How exciting! As someone who was converted to romance novels because of e-readers (and SBTB), I hope that many other readers will give them a shot. We CAN eliminate the stigma of sexy books!

  7. 7
    Laurel says:

    Yay! Congrats on the great article and also on cracking the NY Times, who I would have sworn was unaware that there was such a thing as Romance in genre fiction.

    One thing I think they overlooked in the discussion of covers: Romance is picking up converts because of eBooks, not just being supported by already loyal readers. Over the last year I’ve bought at least 50 titles that I would never have picked up in the bookstore, in large part because I saw the review but not the cover. The midriffs, tattoos, man titties, etc. always served as a big neon sign for “Not your kind of book, move along.”

    So, yeah, don’t judge a book by its cover and all but most of us do. Ebooks are uniquely poised to get the sale based on the blurb instead of the cover and although it’s counterintuitive after years of marketing research on cover art the genre might be growing simply because the traditional market is still there but newbies are giving it a try.

    The classic half-clad cover was definitely a signal to the loyal romance buyer: “Pick me! Pick me!” but it wasn’t attracting those of us who didn’t think we liked romance books.

    wvs: theory47- that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.

  8. 8
    Barbara W. says:

    Congrats!  I started with my Kindle because of EC, not because I was shamed into it, lol, although with the state of HQ’s Presents lately, I should be.  Now most of my books go there, just because my space is gone.

    Is there still a stigma for smutterfic books?  I’m such a shameless ‘ho with mine, I guess I don’t notice.

    respect85 – because I’ve been demanding everyone respect my right to read true smut when I wanted to since 1985 (when I turned 18, ha!)

  9. 9
    Lil' Deviant says:

    Congratulations!

    Oh, wow—-we’re Asian Carp Borg!

    Yay Asian Carp Borg!  Resistance is futile.  HA!

  10. 10
    JB Hunt says:

    This came through on the NYT feed this morning, and I jumped for joy.

    Well done, Sarah! Thanks for representing us so well.

  11. 11
    joanne says:

    The New York Times and a non-snarky article about romance? Are we in heaven?

    A rec for Ms Bosman in historical romance would be The Last Hellion by Loretta Chase. It’s heroine is a writer for a newspaper.

    Contemporary, I’d suggest romantic suspense especially the paranormal-sort-of In Death books by J.D. Robb.

  12. 12
    RebeccaJ says:

    Wow, congrats on being on the cover yourself! Why has puppy been banished to the other side of the door, though? LOL!

    Love the “how much is that doggie in the window” look he’s got going on, though.

  13. 13
    Jenn says:

    Wonderful article, congrats!  I second the convenience of the ebook.  I’m 40 and married with two kids.  My husband used to make fun of my romance books and covers and tell me I shouldn’t read “trash”. Now that my kids can read and take notice, I just can’t have some of that stuff laying around with risque covers and such.  So I love my kindle!  No more laughter from my husband and my ten year old son can’t go gawking at the heaving bosoms.  eReaders are my favorite invention and I go through romances like candy—the best escape from mom drudgery!

  14. 14
    DianeN says:

    You know you have arrived when you’ve been called “Ms. Wendell” by the Times. Congrats, Sarah!

  15. 15
    Milena says:

    Oh, wow—-we’re Asian Carp Borg!

    Can we get that on T-shirts? I’d wear one with pride.

    Re the covers… I have a confession to make. I re-started reading romances when I was going to a lot of mainstream literary conferences. The whole point was to choose the gaudiest, mantittiest covers I could find, preferably with golden embossed letters, and read at breakfast, just for the shocked looks of other attendees. It was great fun… does that make me a bad person?

    Great article, congrats!

  16. 16
    Hannah says:

    Yes, bring on the Asian Carp Borg t-shirts! On the back they could say “I read romance” which would bewilder people who think the Asian Carp Borg is some kind of inside Trekkie joke.

    Congrats on the article, Sarah!

    Re the covers… I have a confession to make. I re-started reading romances when I was going to a lot of mainstream literary conferences. The whole point was to choose the gaudiest, mantittiest covers I could find, preferably with golden embossed letters, and read at breakfast, just for the shocked looks of other attendees. It was great fun… does that make me a bad person?

    You get extra awesome points if you read books with holograms as well. Remember those?

  17. 17
    Elaine says:

    Yeah for good press for romance! What a great article, Sarah!

  18. 18
    LEW says:

    Nice!  And I particularly love the Julie Garwood front and center!

  19. 19
    ReadinginAK says:

    I like this sentence: “It’s easier to check out some naughty little title online than in a brick-and-mortar store where your pastor could step up in line behind you,”

    I like it because I’m a pastor and my Nook keeps my lovely books to me. It mostly helps to keep hubby from teasing, but no one has to know I’m reading about *Twinkies* on my lunch break. Can’t do all theology, all the time… Love the gospel of Mark, but it sure wasn’t written by Loretta Chase!

  20. 20
    Lori James says:

    I was just over on the NY Times site reading comments. I’d love to see more romance readers opinions represented there shouting out loud and proud!

  21. 21
    Carrie S says:

    Rock on, Sarah – you’re famous!

  22. 22
    DreadPirateRachel says:

    Oh, wow—-we’re Asian Carp Borg!

    Can we get that on T-shirts? I’d wear one with pride.

    Damn, you beat me to the punch! Please, please make T-shirts that say this; you will have a market of at least two!

  23. 23
    Zoe Archer says:

    I used to staple colored paper onto the covers of my romances and write BOOK on them so I could read them on the train.

  24. 24
    darlynne says:

    The article was great and I was thrilled and proud to see it. Congratulations, SBSarah, er, Ms. Wendell.

    And then so not surprised—yet still disappointed—at the reader comments. Honestly, we’ve gone ‘round this block too many times. The sales figures alone should have made it clear why the NYT chose to cover this subject and, still, the haters don’t get it.

    I started thinking about all the other things people can like—music, art, shoes, clothes, colors, cars—and whether anyone would criticize or mock another person’s choices and then realized, yes, they would and do. No cows are sacred or even just treated with respect these days. So, screw ‘em. I’m still loud and proud.

  25. 25
    Sara Nalley says:

    Escuse me, is that a Columbia College graduate on the front page of the New York Times?  Good to see you, Sarah!

  26. 26
    Genevieve says:

    Wow, and right after all the Franzen/Weiner fun. That’s great.

    My goodness, to be on the front page of the NYT… you’ll be in those immortalized anthologies the History of America… or one of those “buy the front page of the newspaper the day you were born” gift thingies…

    I made the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle as a random grocery shopper after 9/11, explaining I wasn’t too worried about terrorists poisoning the leeks. But I think yours is a little more impressive :-P

    So cool. Thanks for being such a great spokesperson for the genre.

  27. 27
    Kathleen says:

    Congrats Sarah!

    Hmm the average romance reader buys three books a month. Three!  How about 8 a week?  One of my pet peeves about buying ebooks (don’t do paper anymore) is that you have to buy them one book them at a time. Or am I missing some trick to throw them in a cart? It makes my credit card bill look freaky.

  28. 28

    What a fabulous article…CONGRATS!

  29. 29
    Kristin says:

    @Kathleen…I know you can easily buy multiple books at a time from All Romance…not sure about the other retailers.

  30. 30
    Heather Snow says:

    That’s fantastic!  And with RWA set in NYC this year, I can see the Asian Carp t-shirts swarming the Big Apple :)

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