You see, in my brand new local brick and mortar mega-super-bookstore, you have to be really motivated to find them. And in good shape, too.
The store carries books: hardcover, trade, paperback and coloring books. But it also sells games, cards and toys, calendars and datebooks, coffee and snacks, and …oh yes, if you look real hard you can find the Romance Section.
I went there yesterday. They keep their romances, like mad wives, locked up high in the tower of the second floor. I had to go up an escalator, past the huge Childrens’ Books corner, go on after the Fiction, Fiction remainders, through the Teens and Summer Reading section, and then I kept on going past the Sex and Relationship section, on past the Mystery aisles. Then I peered into the corner.
Up in the rafters, at the back of the attic, where the amiable browser isn’t likely to pick up a romance unless it’s already a best seller. We don’t even get the inevitable snarky teenage boys thumbing through the Romances to find interesting bits to read to their giggling girlfriends anymore.
And what of our older readers, who don’t have the strength to fight their way upriver to Romance country? It’s hard to get there with a walker. Heck, it’s hard to get there without a golf cart. Even the spiders left the place because there’s so little traffic there.
Guys, we get nada.
As I exited left to find the down escalator, I passed the Inspirationals, History, the Fantasies, the Manga, Science Fiction, and then slogged on through Cookbooks, Religion and Diet sections. It’s easier to find “The Inspired Fantastic Mystery of the Great Inca Outdoor Cookbook and Human Sacrifice Diet Manual” than to find a Romance these days.
This is because we’re not considered “literary.” And yet, take a Romance, clap it into trade or hardcover, give it a bland cover, and you’ll find it in the front of the store, in “New Books.”
Now, I don’t have to preach to the converted here. We know that Romance can achieve both heights and depths, like any other genre, and some damned good books regularly appear as “Romance.”
My question to you is: How can we convince the booksellers of this? They should know. They get the sales figures. Is it that they don’t consider Romance as “growable” as other genres? Or simply that they know they’ll sell, so why bother?
I’d love to see Romance take its proper place in the bookstore, easily found and easy to buy, instead of having to take breadcrumbs to toss out behind me so I can find my way back to the downstairs cashiers. It’s not just the respect issue. How are we gong to attract new readers if they keep our books like little bad girls in a shamed corner up near the roof?
You’re a might creative lot, you Wenchlettes. Help a sister(s) out. What do you suggest?