“This is the last RT” – Kathryn Falk Announces End of Romantic Times

At a breakfast this morning at the 2018 RomanticTimes BookLovers Convention, Kathryn Falk and her husband Ken Rubin announced that they are retiring, and that this year is the last year for the RT Convention. While there had been rumors before the announcement, her words, delivered at the end of a farewell speech that focused on what she would be doing next, were met with gasps and audible shock.

Shortly afterward, the following email went out to RT Subscribers and newsletter members announcing that the convention as well as the RT Magazine online and the RT VIP Lounge would all be closing effective immediately:

Dear Loyal RT Family,

After 37 years of serving the book community with news and reviews, Romantic Times, aka RT Book Reviews, the RT VIP Salon and the RT Booklovers Convention will be retiring effective immediately.

We’ll keep the website live for about a year so that you can still access previous blogs, reviews, award nominees and winners, but there won’t be any new content on the website moving forward. After a year we will take down the website.

Many of you have been with us from the first issue and stood with us throughout the many transitions and transformations we’ve encountered and we thank you all for your loyal support over the years.

I am very proud of what we have accomplished with RT’s magazine, website and the RT Booklovers Convention — and the great service we’ve provided for authors, publishers and readers. I’m proud of the contributions we’ve made within the book industry and proud of our place in the expansion and evolution of the romance genre.

It has truly taken a village to bring you the magazine and conventions over the years, and I want to thank all of our reviewers, the heart of RT — more than 200 over the years! — for your dedication and loyalty to RT and its readers. I especially want to thank our senior reviewers Kathe Robin and Jill Smith whose decades of service and love of books helped shape our industry. And thank you to Melinda Helfer, who passed away in 2000, for her love of romance novels, the authors and her incomparable contribution to RT.

I also want to thank the many editorial teams over the years whose dedication, talent, professionalism and love for the books and authors made it a pleasure (and fun) to work together.

Thank you to my current editorial and web staff Emily Walton, Kristin Stec and Alyssa Duspiva. I especially want to thank Elissa Petruzzi, YA senior editor, web editor and romance expert, who stuck with us through dating, engagement, marriage, two kids and a move out of New York. Now that’s dedication!

Thank you to Jo Carol Jones, and the entire convention team for your dedication to the RT Booklovers Convention — the book lover event of the year. I wish you all the very best in whatever you do. And thank you to our convention coordinator, Tere Michaels, for organizing fantastic workshops, managing agent/editor appointments and so much more.

The reviewers may be heart of RT, but Nancy Collazo, our office manager, is the soul! She has been our “fixer” for many years. She kept the minutia of running the company on track with all of the non-sexy responsibilities no one else knew how to do. THANK YOU NANCY, I will miss you most of all. And thank you to Giselle Hirtenfeld/Goldfeder, our advertising guru and RT Review Source manager for your insight and loyalty to RT throughout the years. Her twins were eight months old when she started and now they are in college! And thank you to Kate Ryan for your friendship, love and dedication to the independent booksellers and librarians. You have made a huge difference in our community!

And a HUGE THANK YOU to our subscribers, followers — our fans — without whom none of this would have been possible.

And last but not least THANK YOU to founder and friend Kathryn Falk for shaping the romance genre with your creative vision, fearless leadership and boundless support of authors. We are all grateful for the memories and the many Romantic Times! It’s been quite a ride!

Sincerely,

Carol Stacy
Publisher & RT Convention Executive

Kathryn Falk and Ken Rubin at farewell breakfast
Photo courtesy of Janna MacGregor

Note that while the email says that the RT site will come down after “a year,” with no specific end date, Kathryn Falk said at the breakfast that the site would come down at the end of this month. My guess is that the site will go dark probably closer to a year from now, but I haven’t received confirmation of the specific date that will occur. (I’ll update if I do.)

No mention was made regarding the new 2019 BookLovers Convention, which will be run by current RT Convention coordinator Jo Carol Jones. BookLovers Con will be held in New Orleans, May 15-19 2019.

The shock was evident in the reactions on Twitter and at the conference. W Falk asked those who had attended very RT Convention over its 37-year history, as well as those who had attended 10+ year, and those who traveled from Australia and the UK to stand to be acknowledged, the reaction here at the convention and online has been a mix of surprise and dismay.

https://twitter.com/ceciliatan/status/996797300323176448

https://twitter.com/KtheKoordinator/status/996796430294528000

For me, the announcement is a bittersweet. I’m having mixed reactions to selection in this year’s conference schedule, which is frustrating, but since the first RT I attended in Pittsburgh, I’ve looked forward to it. Pittsburgh was particularly memorable because it’s my hometown, and it was the site of probably the worst conference hotel situation I’ve ever encountered. The construction wasn’t done, dust sent many people with asthma to Mercy Hospital, and the hotel was not at all prepared to host the convention – but I had a fantastic and bizarre time. That was back in the days of the Mr. Romance Pageant, which we called the “mangeant.” Ah, memories.

The closing of the magazine as a review publication and a resource for librarians makes me sad, because I know that it means people are losing their jobs, and that people who rely on the publication online to build book shopping lists and acquisition lists will have to find that information elsewhere – and a single resource to collate all the publication announcements will be hard to locate.

I am looking forward to learning more about the BookLovers Convention in 2019, too.

Do you have a favorite RT memory? What’s your reaction to this news? 

Categorized:

General Bitching...

Comments are Closed

  1. Lizabeth S Tucker says:

    I went to the San Antonio convention in 1990. It was a last minute decision, just two days before it started, flying from Atlanta to San Antonio by way of Chicago. I had so much fun, meeting others who loved the same genre as I did, discussing and defending our choices of favorite authors and books.

    And I spent soooo much money at the autograph event, but didn’t regret a single penny. I kept saying that I would go to another, but Real Life interfered, not allowing me as much freedom time and/or finances. Now I’ll never get another chance. And that makes me so very sad.

    I suspected something was coming when they switched from printed to digital only. For what they do, that didn’t make sense to me. Reading the digital wasn’t as much fun or as useful when making book runs, but I just said I was being an old fogey.

    Honestly, I don’t know why it couldn’t have been turned over to someone else to run, leaving Falk as Emeritus, but it was her baby, so I guess she had the right. Still a shame. Most magazines that give us this type of information on new publications tend to shun the romance community. Leaving us to use social media to find anything out.

  2. ClaireC says:

    Well, damn! My friends and I planned to go this year, but didn’t get our acts together in time and said “next year” instead. It would have been our first trip, after being jealous of the convention and wanting to attend for a few years. I’m sad we’ll never get the chance to go, but look forward to learning more about the BookLovers convention and trying to go to other regional events!

  3. Chris Alexander says:

    I went to my first last year. I opted not to go this year because there weren’t many authors going that I knew. Now, I’m a little disappointed not to be there. I will look into the BookLovers Convention and I’m going to try to get to ApollyCon next year, but I don’t know how hard those tickets are to get.

    It was so fun. I got to meet and chat with people and I didn’t’ have to worry about people looking down on my book choices.

  4. Maureen says:

    I remember getting my first copies of RT magazine at my local Borders(RIP) then subscribing to it for years until it went digital. The digital editions was not the same; Every print issue was full of check marks of books I wanted to read. The conventions were on my bucket list. When I got the email today my heart sank a little.

    I’m going to miss it, RT cemented my love for Romances & more importantly showed me tropes that I had not tried before.

    I know for a fact that librarians used RT as a resource for Romance collection development ( I work at a library, not librarian) on more than one occasion my branch librarian would borrow an issue from me when doing an order.

  5. J.C. Wilder says:

    Pittsburgh was the conference where everyone ended up in my suite eating pizza. (You too, Sarah!) It was the only decent food to be had. LOL
    It’s the end of an era, for sure. My first conference was 1994 I think.
    Damn, I’m old.

  6. Sad news. I’ve never made it to an RT Convention so I’ve missed my chance. Looking at the Booklovers site, I hope the organizers will work on adding more diverse writers to their headliners.

  7. SB Sarah says:

    @Thien-Kim: I agree entirely. I’ve made suggestions already to that effect.

    @Maureen: Yes, librarians were on my mind when I thought about the demise of the magazine’s web presence. I know so many who relied on it and am wonder what they’ll do (and if I can help).

  8. Adrienne says:

    I went to my first RT in 2016 with three coworkers who I was also friends with and it was a lovely bonding experience for us. More than that I felt like I had found my people- both as a reader and an aspiring writer. I couldn’t go due to breastfeeding/baby logistics but I was able to feel at peace with that reality as I knew I would be able to go next year. And now there is no next year.
    I’m keeping an eye on the new convention but as of now it seems a poor substitute, without any diversity in terms of PoC or LGBT authors and books, and the fact that it’s currently invite only makes this fact even more glaring.

  9. Lina says:

    Bummed out to read this. I never made it to convention but planned to when I got back to the U. S (currently living abroad). Now it’s not an option. As readers we really need to nurture our community. You never know when the shape or dynamic will change. Sticky subject I know, but I hate being crushed in within the general population or relegated to a small corner of the bookstore. Romance is a category that’s huge and should be respected.

  10. SeventhWave says:

    Ah, darn it! I had planned to go to this year’s, but ended up changing jobs in late February instead. Like others I hope that something else will fill the void.

  11. HollyS says:

    I’m usually 100% sunshine and rainbows when I comment on things but this news sounds like sour grapes and I can’t help myself. It sounds to me as if TBTB and RT wanted to end things now because readers are demanding change. It is easier to bow out than it is to stay in and do things differently. I am a Black woman and I’ve been reading romance for over 30 years. RT has never been any kind of resource for me as a reader not because I only read romance by other Black women (I read everyone and everything); in my mind they gave short shrift to anyone who did not fit the ideal. Good riddance. Hopefully someone will take up the mantle of appealing to all romance readers and writers. Not that you can please everyone all the time but trying to extend yourself when you are considered a resource is a good thing.

  12. Abby Zidle says:

    I’d love to see someone step into the void and produce a new romance-reviewing vehicle; although many of us found that the online-only RT wasn’t as satisfying or effective as the print version, that doesn’t mean an online version can’t work. Maybe it’s time for Smart Bitches Booklovers? 🙂

  13. Kate says:

    Bummer! I really wanted to go to my first one this year since Reno is an easy drive, but work demands + fewer authors I knew + finances made the decision for me. I haven’t spent as much time reading RT since the early 90s, but appreciated that it was there as a resource.

  14. SB Sarah says:

    Hey Abby! So, basically, an all-you-can-eat Reno-style buffet of romance reviews? 🙂 I have been pondering the logistics of the same idea.

  15. Heather says:

    I never made it to a convention, but I have subscribed for over 20 years to the print (and now digital) versions. Always relied on the great reviews to point me to the next great read, and there were so many! I initially had problems with the digital version and asked on the RT boards to recommend another source for reviews and was introduced to this site as a good place. So for me some good has come of it, since I love this site!

  16. maria says:

    I’m sadly not surprised as I reluctantly gave up the digital version of the magazine some months ago. The online version was cumbersome, and the thought of another password having to be added to the long list of passwords I was already burdened with, was just too much. I really missed having a subscription to the original paper magazine, and being able to leaf through it and the reviews at my leisure.

  17. SB Sarah says:

    @Heather: That’s so lovely – I’m so happy you found us!

    @Maria: I know well the challenge of having multiple passwords to remember. May I make a recommendation? I use LastPass to keep all my passwords, and it has helped me a ton, especially because it can generate massive secure passwords for you, then store them. I’m not affiliated with the company or anything, but remembering passwords is TOUGH.

  18. Eliza says:

    I discovered RT magazine way back in the late 90’s. I used to buy it at my favorite bookseller Waldenbooks. I could not wait to dig into the magazine and see what books I needed to buy that month. I was a subscriber for nearly 18 years. I hated the online version. Online does not replace the fun of the paper version. Being able to flip through it in bed after a long stressful day. RT you will be missed!

  19. Katherine McCorry says:

    The enthusiasm this site has for RT convinced me to attend in 2016 & 2017. I was SO happy to have found my people at last.
    The instant comradarie is what truly touched me. For a solitary activity, we sure are happy to talk about books. It never seemed to matter what genre was a favorite, most were eager to chat and discover a new read.
    I’ve never been to New Orleans, so I’m willing to give an experienced convention director a shot. Maybe the change will result in expanded diversity and inclusiveness. I’m up for any event where I can spend more time talking about books, publishing, awesome women & especially romance. Thanks for posting the romance podcast list! Could there be a romcon/event calendar in the works? My kids have mini vans of their own now, so mine’s empty – who’s up for a road trip?

  20. Nicki S says:

    Now, I acknowledge that I am a Queen B¡t¢h (once had a gold charm of the word worn around my neck in fact) but my first reaction to this news was, “what a selfish b¡t¢h!” Just because she’s retiring doesn’t mean everyone has to suffer; she could simply hand over the reigns to someone else. But no, she has to shut everything down and pull the plug. Why? Because she won’t be getting paid anymore.

    I have never been a fan of RT, because in order to actually read the reviews (which are pretty much just the whim of the reviewer, same as any other blog), one had to PAY to subscribe. Ummm, no thanks. I can read reviews for free anywhere online (and reviews I actually trust), and I see no reason to pay to support a massive website that undoubtedly makes a hefty profit from ads alone. RT had an elevated opinion of themselves and became too big for their britches, IMO.

    So, I’m not really sad to see them go, but I do feel bad for their employees, hope they at least got some better notice.

  21. LauraL says:

    @ Nicki S – I was wondering if Kathryn Falk had even tried selling the business/concept?

    I have happy memories of getting my RT in the mail and highlighting the books I wanted to read with sticky flags. You can’t do that with a website, so I was done with RT when they went online only.

    Nice to hear the convention will continue because I have often seen attendees mention how they had found their people.

  22. Katie C. says:

    My mom and I had mixed feelings about RT Booklovers Convention (SBTB was kind enough to include my review of the event with their recap in a post last year). There were things we loved (lots of free books and meeting authors – yay!) and things we didn’t love (loooong lines and sometimes feeling like outsiders because we were both first-timers and “just” readers). But after thinking it over more, we figured we learned a lot about which events we liked and which we didn’t as well as what attending a conference like this is like – we knew if we had to fly to the conference we wouldn’t go, but if the 2019 was in reasonable driving distance of our home – say 9-11 hours or less, we would put what we learned into practice and try again. So now that RT is ending, I have signed up for the email newsletter for the New Orleans conferenc next year and plan to keep my eye on it.

    As for the RT Book Reviews, I didn’t actually read the reviews, but I liked that they had a very long list of books coming out in the next month including category (which I enjoy reading) and some outside the romance genre – like cozy mysteries and some Sci-Fi/fantasy, etc. I liked that I could scroll through, look at the cover and brief description and be exposed to other books I may not see on sites that are dedicated to in-depth reviews of books – it was a nice resource to have in addition to SBTB and other review sites I read.

  23. Bec says:

    As a non-American, I have no emotional attachment to RT, but I have been following the demand for more inclusivity and diversity so my first thoughts were also sour grapes in being forced to change with changing times… As things tend to happen in life, when one door closes, a new one will open.

  24. Rachel says:

    This has always been on my list to go, but I’ve never made or had the time. It was always “next year!” Disappointed.

  25. […] END OF AN ERA. Romantic Times and the related convention are going away. “’This is the last RT’ – Kathryn Falk Announces End of Romantic Times” — Smart Bitches, Trashy Books has the […]

  26. Vicky says:

    Was the convention having trouble?

    If staff and volunteers could be found would there be sufficient attendee interest for a new conference with a similar focus?

  27. Sara Reyes says:

    Fresh Fiction has been listing books (popular fiction including romance, mystery, science fiction, fantasy, YA/NA, and thrillers) since 2005. We continue to do so whether we review the book or not. It’s free for authors and publishers to be listed and we scour catalogs for upcoming books. We usually are adding four months out all the time.

    Librarians and booksellers have been part of our community for many many years and I hope will continue to be so. Just go to any page at Fresh Fiction and click on BOOKS.

  28. Louise says:

    My guess is that the site will go dark probably closer to a year from now</blockquote.
    Activate the time machine. rtbookreviews dot com is there–with “We’re outta here” farewell message–but so far today, three different browsers have been unable even to find romantictimes dot com. The browsers’ error messages make it sound as if the RT folks simply pulled the plug on their server. I sure hope this means they have severed all ties and set sail for the Marianas, because otherwise it’s pretty inexcusable.

  29. Louise says:

    [whoops! can one of the Bitches In Charge please pop in the requisite > bracket up there?]

  30. Julie Comins says:

    My first convention was RT2005 in Saint Louis and since I was attending alone I wanted to hook up with some people by email before hand so we could feel like we weren’t alone, I put a note on an online billboard and got 32 replies, someone set us up a group and we called ourselves the FeMailers and to this day some of our group still go every year. I’ve been able to go to 3 more conventions since then LA, Chicago, and New Orleans, and I’m happy to see as many of my fellow FeMailers as I can ever time, a few of the group have become published authors since 2005 and we are very proud of them and read them with pride.
    Without these conventions, I never would have made these friends from all over the country and met all the great authors that I did, thanks for the memories!

  31. Bona says:

    I was surprised as I didn’t know it was sucha a one woman show, in the sense that people change but publications continue, if there’s a group of people behind it. That being said, I was also sad, because it’s a place I usually visit, even if the books they like are not always the ones I like. The RT Reviewrs’ Choice each year do rarely chose my favourite books. But I always went there to see what’s published. It was one of the first Romantic websites.
    My best memory? Well, it’s not ‘one memory’, I think it is a feature, the RT Seal of Excellence each month. It was something special, I knew that the book they chose had something worth it, just on book per month.

  32. Des Livres says:

    I am very surprised they are not trying to sell it. Or bits of it. Why not walk away and make a bit of money at the same time?

  33. Nancy C says:

    I was shocked and disappointed to hear that RT was closing down. When I started doing selection for the romance collection at my library back in 1998, I made sure we subscribed to RT and used it as one of my usual review sources. I’d hoped to go to the convention this year, but it coincided with my son’s high school graduation, so I planned on next year. Oh well. I’ll wait to hear reviews of the Booklover’s Convention before I pony up for that. I’d love it if another romance-only con got off the ground, especially one geared for readers.

  34. re:#28, above, look up https://www.rtbookreviews.com
    I attended 3 RT conferences & subscribed after a B Dalton’s employee turned me on to it. Saw the first 2 Mr. Romance pageants (whoo, whoo, whoo!). Hoped to go again, now I’m finally published (too late!). Suspected they were having problems when they went digital and suddenly I couldn’t get a book review. Ah, well! End of another era. Now my fave authors’ new books will be harder to find.

  35. DONNA says:

    I WAS SAD WHEN THE MAGAZINE WENT OUT OF PRINT. DIGITAL WAS HARD TO FIND ANYTHING BUT I KEEP THE SUBSCRIPTION. NOW IT IS EVEN HARDER TO FIND OUT WHEN MY FAVORITE AUTHORS HAVE BOOKS COMING OUT & FINDING NEW AUTHORS,

  36. Kathy says:

    Yeah, it sounded strange to me that she just up and walked away instead of selling the site. The print version was a fantastic resource for different genres, and I found the online version to be a less-valuable resource. It seemed to have far fewer books listed each month, and a lot fewer than the print version. And you can’t dogear pages in a browser, or highlight individual reviews!

  37. k says:

    Other than haring all over the net from blog to blog to forum in search of upcoming books, all I can think of is to pull out my notebook with book release dates (the current one runs from Jan 2015; the older one, from Jan 2008-Dec 2014, sits on my desk for reference), look up all of my favorite authors on Amazon, and follow them.

Comments are closed.

By posting a comment, you consent to have your personally identifiable information collected and used in accordance with our privacy policy.

↑ Back to Top