Romances Round the World

by Mary Jo

Cat_243_dover_7Wenchling Talpianna sent me the link to this very interesting article, which compares American and British styles of cover art.  (Thank you, Tal!)  http://tinyurl.com/zkku7  Most of the examples are from fantasy and science fiction, but even if you don’t read those genres, it’s still interesting to see the differences. 

The general conclusion is that that British book covers tend toward simplicity and minimalism, while American covers go for more action and color.  The examples support that, and really, it’s not surprising.  American culture seldom shys away from excess. <G>

It’s not possible to do a comparison of British and American romance cover styles because there really isn’t a British romance genre that is equivalent to the American.  From what I’ve heard, British publishing tends to be dignified and male, which means that it hasn’t much use for the mushy emotionalism of romance.  Girl cooties, you know.  The exception is Mills & Boon, which produces ‘cookie cutter stories for shopgirls.’ 

I don’t know any British publishing executives so I can’t say if the conventional wisdom about their opinions is correct (and I did recently meet one British female editor actively shopping for American romances publish in Britain).  However, I’ve lived in Britain and read the newspapers and it does seem that romantic fiction doesn’t get much respect there.  Heaven knows that American romance readers and writers often complain that we don’t get enough respect, but the situation is worse across the pond. 

Spanish_shattered_rainbows Note: I don’t know any profession that feels it gets enough respect.  This is a theme one sees in all kinds of trade publications in all kinds of professions.  Apparently the world is running a respect deficit.  Except for nurses—I recently read that they are the most respected group in America, and that’s fine by me!  But I digress.

Very few American romance writers are published in Britain unless they’ve become mainstream bestsellers.  And yet the readership is there.  This blog has regular British readers, and over the years, I’ve received plenty of fan e-mails from Britain, among other places.  In the day of the internet, sophisticated readers all over the world can find romance novels, though shipping charges make buying American romances an expensive proposition.  I’ve heard from readers in Argentina and Venezuala and Caribbean islands. South Africa and Australia and India and Singapore.  Holland and Germany and Spain. 

The ones who contact me are almost always reading in English, which means a high level of education if English isn’t their first language.  I’m always impressed Spanish_one_perfect_rose by their diligence in hunting down American books.  And I also think there must be millions of readers around the world who would equally enjoy American romances if they could get their hands on copies.  (The illustrations for this blog are for Spanish editions of my books, largely because I found a very well done Spanish language fan site that had a lot of the cover images, which saved me from scanning covers.)

The fall of Communism in Eastern Europe led to an explosion of rights buying of American romances.  Once I read some intellectual who deplored that instead of reading real literature as they did under the Soviet system, newly liberated Russians just wanted to buy tacky romances.  The market speaks!  And yes, Russian publishers bought quite a few of my tacky romances. <g>

Spanish_angel_rogueForeign rights are a big business.  Countries that are too small to support a sizable publishing industry can buy language specific rights to American books, including romances, for a fairly modest amount.  (Very modest in the case of small language groups.)  The publishers have to pay for translation and production costs, but in the end, they can produce books by first rate American writers in Bulgarian or Norwegian or Czech. (My Czech editions are published under the name Mary Jo Putneyova. <g>)

I regularly think how lucky I am to be a native English speaker, with the largest potential audience in the world.  The large market here can nourish a lot of potential writers.  There must be very talented people in countries that are simply too small to support writers in their native language, so they may never have much scope to exercise their potential.

Spanish_petals_in_the_storm We authors cash the foreign rights checks, and keep our fingers crossed that the translations are good ones.  Several of my early traditional Regencies were published in Germany as skinny little magazines that couldn’t possibly contain all my golden prose.  I’ve since learned that publishers often reserve the right to cut to a particular length.  Again, one hopes it was done well. 

Once I traded some information with a German born writer of American Regencies.  She read one of my German editions and reported back that if any of her books were published in Germany so that her family could read them, she hoped she got the same translator.  This was comforting. 

Spanish_thunder_and_roses Incidentally, American romance cover illustrators also have agents who sell European rights to their work, so it’s not unusual to have a foreign edition show up at your door with a cover that was on a different American book.  The book on the left, the Spanish version of Thunder and Rose, was the cover for Laura Kinsale’s The Shadow and The Star, and I’ve had Johanna Lindsey covers and other such illustrations.  It’s all part of the fun. 

The one company that publishes romance all around the world is Harlequin, of course.  Harlequin writers get the fun of seeing their work published in many languages, and they get to compare the cover art styles, too.  I’ve heard that the bestselling Harlequin lines in much of the world are the oldest and most traditional lines, Harlequin Presents and Harlequin Romance because the characters do the best job of reflection the reality of many women’s lives. 

BblackreaderYet despite Harlequin’s best efforts, I suspect that zillions more romances could be sold around the world if they were readily available.  For years, I’ve had a dream where a bookstore would have single copies of a whole lot of books.  Customers could browse to find what they wanted, then go to a production kiosk and punch in the book’s code.  Five minutes later, the kiosk would have produced a bound, printed volume.  This would make millions of books available around the world at much lower prices because there wouldn’t be the shipping costs.  It would also mean instant gratification—instead of having to wait for days or weeks for a special order to arrive, you could walk out of the store with the book right away.

The technology to make my vision come true isn’t here yet, but it’s getting closer.  In the meantime, all over the world, dedicated readers are looking for stories of love, challenge, and commitment.             

Marriagespell_2_comp_4 Mary Jo

30 thoughts on “Romances Round the World”

  1. Being a Frenchwoman your post really interested me, Mary Jo.
    Romance here in France has an even lower status than in Britain. Picture this, women hide their romance books–packaged in a lurid red cover with awful illustrations even terrible titles–under their groceries in the supermarket.
    Not to mention that their are no french romance authors. The closest we have are author who write big historical sagas but it’s really not the same, especially since the writing is usually sketchy at best.
    So the romance we get are traslated version of American romance. And, oh, the pain the pain. Sorry to dash your hopes but translations in France–and I would hazard a guess that it’s the same everywhere–are really horrible. The prose is butchered and passages randomly cut.
    I once amused myself by comparing an old harlequin–from the 70s–in its original form and its french counterpart and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I’ve always known that much is lost while translating a work but when it comes to romance nothing is done to limit the damage. To the contrary.
    And it’s no better today. They employ translators who know nothing of regency England to translate books set in the early 1800s and I’ve often seen Almack’s taken for a family giving parties. It’s that bad.
    That’s why I read exclusively in english. A few years ago i had to pay $10 in shipping to get a book from the US but now we have Amazon France who allows you to order books in their original version and the shipping is free. If you’re lucky they even have the book in stock and you receive it under 48 hours. If not, you may have to wait up to a month. But it’s better than nothing.
    Of course when it comes to older, rarer books I still have to go through Amazon Marketplace and pay the 10$ shipping fee. Would you believe that a used, out of print book sold on Amazon US for $3 will be priced at $50 on Amazon France? Totally ridiculous.
    When I want instant gratification and can’t wait for a book to get to me I order the ebook. I do this only rarely because I do not approve of the high prices of ebooks. They’ll never be as good–or their fabrication as costly–as regular paperback so the price *should* be lower. And, unfortunately, all the websites that sell ebook at a reduced price are not allowed to sell to foreign countries. On Ereader you even have to pay a Tax when you live abroad!

    Reply
  2. Being a Frenchwoman your post really interested me, Mary Jo.
    Romance here in France has an even lower status than in Britain. Picture this, women hide their romance books–packaged in a lurid red cover with awful illustrations even terrible titles–under their groceries in the supermarket.
    Not to mention that their are no french romance authors. The closest we have are author who write big historical sagas but it’s really not the same, especially since the writing is usually sketchy at best.
    So the romance we get are traslated version of American romance. And, oh, the pain the pain. Sorry to dash your hopes but translations in France–and I would hazard a guess that it’s the same everywhere–are really horrible. The prose is butchered and passages randomly cut.
    I once amused myself by comparing an old harlequin–from the 70s–in its original form and its french counterpart and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I’ve always known that much is lost while translating a work but when it comes to romance nothing is done to limit the damage. To the contrary.
    And it’s no better today. They employ translators who know nothing of regency England to translate books set in the early 1800s and I’ve often seen Almack’s taken for a family giving parties. It’s that bad.
    That’s why I read exclusively in english. A few years ago i had to pay $10 in shipping to get a book from the US but now we have Amazon France who allows you to order books in their original version and the shipping is free. If you’re lucky they even have the book in stock and you receive it under 48 hours. If not, you may have to wait up to a month. But it’s better than nothing.
    Of course when it comes to older, rarer books I still have to go through Amazon Marketplace and pay the 10$ shipping fee. Would you believe that a used, out of print book sold on Amazon US for $3 will be priced at $50 on Amazon France? Totally ridiculous.
    When I want instant gratification and can’t wait for a book to get to me I order the ebook. I do this only rarely because I do not approve of the high prices of ebooks. They’ll never be as good–or their fabrication as costly–as regular paperback so the price *should* be lower. And, unfortunately, all the websites that sell ebook at a reduced price are not allowed to sell to foreign countries. On Ereader you even have to pay a Tax when you live abroad!

    Reply
  3. Being a Frenchwoman your post really interested me, Mary Jo.
    Romance here in France has an even lower status than in Britain. Picture this, women hide their romance books–packaged in a lurid red cover with awful illustrations even terrible titles–under their groceries in the supermarket.
    Not to mention that their are no french romance authors. The closest we have are author who write big historical sagas but it’s really not the same, especially since the writing is usually sketchy at best.
    So the romance we get are traslated version of American romance. And, oh, the pain the pain. Sorry to dash your hopes but translations in France–and I would hazard a guess that it’s the same everywhere–are really horrible. The prose is butchered and passages randomly cut.
    I once amused myself by comparing an old harlequin–from the 70s–in its original form and its french counterpart and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I’ve always known that much is lost while translating a work but when it comes to romance nothing is done to limit the damage. To the contrary.
    And it’s no better today. They employ translators who know nothing of regency England to translate books set in the early 1800s and I’ve often seen Almack’s taken for a family giving parties. It’s that bad.
    That’s why I read exclusively in english. A few years ago i had to pay $10 in shipping to get a book from the US but now we have Amazon France who allows you to order books in their original version and the shipping is free. If you’re lucky they even have the book in stock and you receive it under 48 hours. If not, you may have to wait up to a month. But it’s better than nothing.
    Of course when it comes to older, rarer books I still have to go through Amazon Marketplace and pay the 10$ shipping fee. Would you believe that a used, out of print book sold on Amazon US for $3 will be priced at $50 on Amazon France? Totally ridiculous.
    When I want instant gratification and can’t wait for a book to get to me I order the ebook. I do this only rarely because I do not approve of the high prices of ebooks. They’ll never be as good–or their fabrication as costly–as regular paperback so the price *should* be lower. And, unfortunately, all the websites that sell ebook at a reduced price are not allowed to sell to foreign countries. On Ereader you even have to pay a Tax when you live abroad!

    Reply
  4. Gah! Please forgive all the typos and little mistakes–like ‘their’ for ‘there’, forgotten ‘s’…– in my post above. That will teach me to post without checking for errors first.

    Reply
  5. Gah! Please forgive all the typos and little mistakes–like ‘their’ for ‘there’, forgotten ‘s’…– in my post above. That will teach me to post without checking for errors first.

    Reply
  6. Gah! Please forgive all the typos and little mistakes–like ‘their’ for ‘there’, forgotten ‘s’…– in my post above. That will teach me to post without checking for errors first.

    Reply
  7. “For years, I’ve had a dream where a bookstore would have single copies of a whole lot of books. Customers could browse to find what they wanted, then go to a production kiosk and punch in the book’s code.”
    Your dream is in the test stage! They’ve made a prototype of this sort of machine, called the ‘Espresso Book Machine—and it’s currently being tested at the World Bank bookstore in Washington, D.C.’ – see http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13989046/site/newsweek/
    Harlequin’s moving into ebooks, which will also make their back catalogue more readily available.
    When I looked at the comparisons between the UK and US covers, in most cases I much preferred the UK cover. Which, since I live in the UK, probably means that the editors are making the right choices. Quite a lot of the covers remind me of the original covers (or I think they are) of the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. As far as I can remember, the Hobbit had a cover with a forest on it, whereas the Lord of the Ring had a very minimalistic design with a menacing eye in the centre. The fantasy covers for the UK reflect those two types.
    “It’s not possible to do a comparison of British and American romance cover styles because there really isn’t a British romance genre that is equivalent to the American. From what I’ve heard, British publishing tends to be dignified and male”
    We have a lot of chick lit, and those covers are quite often pink or have high heels on them, and some have more glittery covers. It’s true we don’t have so many single-title romances, but there are some. Harlequin (Mills & Boon in the UK) is by far the biggest publisher of romance, and the one associated with the genre in the UK. But the M&B covers and the Harlequin covers are really rather similar – in fact, they often use the same cover-art. Sometimes, though, the American version involves more colour contrast/minimalism, for example: http://tinyurl.com/rtx7w is the Harlequin cover, and this is the M&B cover http://tinyurl.com/ev945

    Reply
  8. “For years, I’ve had a dream where a bookstore would have single copies of a whole lot of books. Customers could browse to find what they wanted, then go to a production kiosk and punch in the book’s code.”
    Your dream is in the test stage! They’ve made a prototype of this sort of machine, called the ‘Espresso Book Machine—and it’s currently being tested at the World Bank bookstore in Washington, D.C.’ – see http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13989046/site/newsweek/
    Harlequin’s moving into ebooks, which will also make their back catalogue more readily available.
    When I looked at the comparisons between the UK and US covers, in most cases I much preferred the UK cover. Which, since I live in the UK, probably means that the editors are making the right choices. Quite a lot of the covers remind me of the original covers (or I think they are) of the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. As far as I can remember, the Hobbit had a cover with a forest on it, whereas the Lord of the Ring had a very minimalistic design with a menacing eye in the centre. The fantasy covers for the UK reflect those two types.
    “It’s not possible to do a comparison of British and American romance cover styles because there really isn’t a British romance genre that is equivalent to the American. From what I’ve heard, British publishing tends to be dignified and male”
    We have a lot of chick lit, and those covers are quite often pink or have high heels on them, and some have more glittery covers. It’s true we don’t have so many single-title romances, but there are some. Harlequin (Mills & Boon in the UK) is by far the biggest publisher of romance, and the one associated with the genre in the UK. But the M&B covers and the Harlequin covers are really rather similar – in fact, they often use the same cover-art. Sometimes, though, the American version involves more colour contrast/minimalism, for example: http://tinyurl.com/rtx7w is the Harlequin cover, and this is the M&B cover http://tinyurl.com/ev945

    Reply
  9. “For years, I’ve had a dream where a bookstore would have single copies of a whole lot of books. Customers could browse to find what they wanted, then go to a production kiosk and punch in the book’s code.”
    Your dream is in the test stage! They’ve made a prototype of this sort of machine, called the ‘Espresso Book Machine—and it’s currently being tested at the World Bank bookstore in Washington, D.C.’ – see http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13989046/site/newsweek/
    Harlequin’s moving into ebooks, which will also make their back catalogue more readily available.
    When I looked at the comparisons between the UK and US covers, in most cases I much preferred the UK cover. Which, since I live in the UK, probably means that the editors are making the right choices. Quite a lot of the covers remind me of the original covers (or I think they are) of the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. As far as I can remember, the Hobbit had a cover with a forest on it, whereas the Lord of the Ring had a very minimalistic design with a menacing eye in the centre. The fantasy covers for the UK reflect those two types.
    “It’s not possible to do a comparison of British and American romance cover styles because there really isn’t a British romance genre that is equivalent to the American. From what I’ve heard, British publishing tends to be dignified and male”
    We have a lot of chick lit, and those covers are quite often pink or have high heels on them, and some have more glittery covers. It’s true we don’t have so many single-title romances, but there are some. Harlequin (Mills & Boon in the UK) is by far the biggest publisher of romance, and the one associated with the genre in the UK. But the M&B covers and the Harlequin covers are really rather similar – in fact, they often use the same cover-art. Sometimes, though, the American version involves more colour contrast/minimalism, for example: http://tinyurl.com/rtx7w is the Harlequin cover, and this is the M&B cover http://tinyurl.com/ev945

    Reply
  10. I live in Malta where the vast majority of books found in our bookshops are from British publishers and up until recently the only romantic novels one could find in the shops are the ones published by Mills and Boon and the books by Johanna Lindsey and Jude Deveraux. Luckily, an independent British publisher picked up Nora Roberts and in the past few years, the same publisher has published some of the big names in romance such as Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick, Mary Balogh, Christine Feehan, Linda Howard, Julia Quinn and SEP. Harper Collins UK have started publishing Eloisa James’ books, which is great news for me as it means that I don’t have to rely on Amazon any more to find books by my favourite writers.
    Up to a few years ago, the only historical romances published in Britain where historical family sagas which although pigeonholed as romances, were mostly tales about families or about poor girls becoming rich and successful businesswomen. Although there was a romance, in many cases I’ve found it rather underdeveloped and not the main focus of the plot. I guess that in the UK, there isn’t much of a distinction between women’s fiction and romance. Even this year’s Romantic Novel of the Year Award, Erica James’ Gardens of Delight is a women’s fiction novel rather than straight romance.
    Julie

    Reply
  11. I live in Malta where the vast majority of books found in our bookshops are from British publishers and up until recently the only romantic novels one could find in the shops are the ones published by Mills and Boon and the books by Johanna Lindsey and Jude Deveraux. Luckily, an independent British publisher picked up Nora Roberts and in the past few years, the same publisher has published some of the big names in romance such as Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick, Mary Balogh, Christine Feehan, Linda Howard, Julia Quinn and SEP. Harper Collins UK have started publishing Eloisa James’ books, which is great news for me as it means that I don’t have to rely on Amazon any more to find books by my favourite writers.
    Up to a few years ago, the only historical romances published in Britain where historical family sagas which although pigeonholed as romances, were mostly tales about families or about poor girls becoming rich and successful businesswomen. Although there was a romance, in many cases I’ve found it rather underdeveloped and not the main focus of the plot. I guess that in the UK, there isn’t much of a distinction between women’s fiction and romance. Even this year’s Romantic Novel of the Year Award, Erica James’ Gardens of Delight is a women’s fiction novel rather than straight romance.
    Julie

    Reply
  12. I live in Malta where the vast majority of books found in our bookshops are from British publishers and up until recently the only romantic novels one could find in the shops are the ones published by Mills and Boon and the books by Johanna Lindsey and Jude Deveraux. Luckily, an independent British publisher picked up Nora Roberts and in the past few years, the same publisher has published some of the big names in romance such as Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick, Mary Balogh, Christine Feehan, Linda Howard, Julia Quinn and SEP. Harper Collins UK have started publishing Eloisa James’ books, which is great news for me as it means that I don’t have to rely on Amazon any more to find books by my favourite writers.
    Up to a few years ago, the only historical romances published in Britain where historical family sagas which although pigeonholed as romances, were mostly tales about families or about poor girls becoming rich and successful businesswomen. Although there was a romance, in many cases I’ve found it rather underdeveloped and not the main focus of the plot. I guess that in the UK, there isn’t much of a distinction between women’s fiction and romance. Even this year’s Romantic Novel of the Year Award, Erica James’ Gardens of Delight is a women’s fiction novel rather than straight romance.
    Julie

    Reply
  13. “When I looked at the comparisons between the UK and US covers, in most cases I much preferred the UK cover. Which, since I live in the UK, probably means that the editors are making the right choices.”
    Well I live in the states and I pretty much loathe 99% of the romance covers out there (what exactly did Julia Ross do in a past life to get those gorgeous covers of hers?). Lurid, tacky, physically impossible in some cases, and usually misleading (don’t get me stated about the “accuracy” of the costumes on the historicals) . . . *shudder*

    Reply
  14. “When I looked at the comparisons between the UK and US covers, in most cases I much preferred the UK cover. Which, since I live in the UK, probably means that the editors are making the right choices.”
    Well I live in the states and I pretty much loathe 99% of the romance covers out there (what exactly did Julia Ross do in a past life to get those gorgeous covers of hers?). Lurid, tacky, physically impossible in some cases, and usually misleading (don’t get me stated about the “accuracy” of the costumes on the historicals) . . . *shudder*

    Reply
  15. “When I looked at the comparisons between the UK and US covers, in most cases I much preferred the UK cover. Which, since I live in the UK, probably means that the editors are making the right choices.”
    Well I live in the states and I pretty much loathe 99% of the romance covers out there (what exactly did Julia Ross do in a past life to get those gorgeous covers of hers?). Lurid, tacky, physically impossible in some cases, and usually misleading (don’t get me stated about the “accuracy” of the costumes on the historicals) . . . *shudder*

    Reply
  16. I’ve never been a fan of the US covers, I’m afraid. Near naked characters romping in the open air just makes me laugh and I do think that if the US took a leaf out of the UK’s book and adopted some classy covers, then maybe it would help to shake off some of the negative press which romance gets in the US.
    Stephanie Laurens has been given some breathtaking covers for her Cynster series in the UK as have Mary Balogh and Eloisa James. I also love the UK Julia Quinn covers which although cartonny capture some of the series’ fun.

    Reply
  17. I’ve never been a fan of the US covers, I’m afraid. Near naked characters romping in the open air just makes me laugh and I do think that if the US took a leaf out of the UK’s book and adopted some classy covers, then maybe it would help to shake off some of the negative press which romance gets in the US.
    Stephanie Laurens has been given some breathtaking covers for her Cynster series in the UK as have Mary Balogh and Eloisa James. I also love the UK Julia Quinn covers which although cartonny capture some of the series’ fun.

    Reply
  18. I’ve never been a fan of the US covers, I’m afraid. Near naked characters romping in the open air just makes me laugh and I do think that if the US took a leaf out of the UK’s book and adopted some classy covers, then maybe it would help to shake off some of the negative press which romance gets in the US.
    Stephanie Laurens has been given some breathtaking covers for her Cynster series in the UK as have Mary Balogh and Eloisa James. I also love the UK Julia Quinn covers which although cartonny capture some of the series’ fun.

    Reply
  19. I’ve never been a fan of the US covers, I’m afraid. Near naked characters romping in the open air just makes me laugh and I do think that if the US took a leaf out of the UK’s book and adopted some classy covers, then maybe it would help to shake off some of the negative press which romance gets in the US.
    Stephanie Laurens has been given some breathtaking covers for her Cynster series in the UK as have Mary Balogh and Eloisa James. I also love the UK Julia Quinn covers which although cartonny capture some of the series sense of fun.

    Reply
  20. I’ve never been a fan of the US covers, I’m afraid. Near naked characters romping in the open air just makes me laugh and I do think that if the US took a leaf out of the UK’s book and adopted some classy covers, then maybe it would help to shake off some of the negative press which romance gets in the US.
    Stephanie Laurens has been given some breathtaking covers for her Cynster series in the UK as have Mary Balogh and Eloisa James. I also love the UK Julia Quinn covers which although cartonny capture some of the series sense of fun.

    Reply
  21. I’ve never been a fan of the US covers, I’m afraid. Near naked characters romping in the open air just makes me laugh and I do think that if the US took a leaf out of the UK’s book and adopted some classy covers, then maybe it would help to shake off some of the negative press which romance gets in the US.
    Stephanie Laurens has been given some breathtaking covers for her Cynster series in the UK as have Mary Balogh and Eloisa James. I also love the UK Julia Quinn covers which although cartonny capture some of the series sense of fun.

    Reply
  22. Oh, don’t get me started on German translations! There are some good ones out there, granted, but most romances are stuck with Bastei Lübbe, Heyne and the like (which focus on entertainment, and quantity over quality) and they are churning out horrible translations. They simply cut anything they do not like/understand/think is irrelevant, to an extend where you can barely understand the book! Then there are the “booklets” mentioned in MJP’s blog. These are even more butchered. Plus they are only sold in Supermarkets or at train stations, never in bookstores (unlike in America, Germans and Austrians do most of their book shopping in bookstores). I always feel sorry for the poor authors who get published in that format!
    The funniest thing is that some contemporary romances are marketed as chit lit/women’s fiction over here. They get a cover to match and voila, they are respectable, unlike their poor historical sisters, who are considered trashy.

    Reply
  23. Oh, don’t get me started on German translations! There are some good ones out there, granted, but most romances are stuck with Bastei Lübbe, Heyne and the like (which focus on entertainment, and quantity over quality) and they are churning out horrible translations. They simply cut anything they do not like/understand/think is irrelevant, to an extend where you can barely understand the book! Then there are the “booklets” mentioned in MJP’s blog. These are even more butchered. Plus they are only sold in Supermarkets or at train stations, never in bookstores (unlike in America, Germans and Austrians do most of their book shopping in bookstores). I always feel sorry for the poor authors who get published in that format!
    The funniest thing is that some contemporary romances are marketed as chit lit/women’s fiction over here. They get a cover to match and voila, they are respectable, unlike their poor historical sisters, who are considered trashy.

    Reply
  24. Oh, don’t get me started on German translations! There are some good ones out there, granted, but most romances are stuck with Bastei Lübbe, Heyne and the like (which focus on entertainment, and quantity over quality) and they are churning out horrible translations. They simply cut anything they do not like/understand/think is irrelevant, to an extend where you can barely understand the book! Then there are the “booklets” mentioned in MJP’s blog. These are even more butchered. Plus they are only sold in Supermarkets or at train stations, never in bookstores (unlike in America, Germans and Austrians do most of their book shopping in bookstores). I always feel sorry for the poor authors who get published in that format!
    The funniest thing is that some contemporary romances are marketed as chit lit/women’s fiction over here. They get a cover to match and voila, they are respectable, unlike their poor historical sisters, who are considered trashy.

    Reply
  25. From MJP:
    Estelle, thanks for your insights on reading as a Frenchwoman. Since your English is impeccable, I see why you prefer to dodge bad translations! I’m glad to hear that Amazon France does allow you to order English books with free shipping–it really does bother me that readers in other countries have to pay such a high premium to get books. (And as for your typos–they’re certainly no worse than mine always are!)
    Laura, I read about the Espresson machine a while back, and I was very heartened! I hope it becomes commercially feasible soon. Thanks for the URLs of the Harlequin historical covers. In this case, I like the American one more since I find the artwork better and more interesting. The British one is well executed, but a very standard Regency style illustration. The American version is far more intriguing, at least to me.
    Julie, how cool that you live in Malta! The hero of my next book, out next summer, is Maltese and the book starts there. I’ve read some of the ‘clogs and shawls” historical sagas you refer to, and I imagine they’re descendants of Catherine Cookson. Often good books, but not really romances.
    Tonda, much as many of us authors dislike the cliched clinch covers, they do offer a powerful, immediately identifiable marketing symbol that shouts ROMANCE! Over time, other looks have become more common, mercifully, but those tacky covers did help create the modern romance genre as a distinct entity. Sigh.
    Mary Jo, dismally contemplating the state of foreign translations

    Reply
  26. From MJP:
    Estelle, thanks for your insights on reading as a Frenchwoman. Since your English is impeccable, I see why you prefer to dodge bad translations! I’m glad to hear that Amazon France does allow you to order English books with free shipping–it really does bother me that readers in other countries have to pay such a high premium to get books. (And as for your typos–they’re certainly no worse than mine always are!)
    Laura, I read about the Espresson machine a while back, and I was very heartened! I hope it becomes commercially feasible soon. Thanks for the URLs of the Harlequin historical covers. In this case, I like the American one more since I find the artwork better and more interesting. The British one is well executed, but a very standard Regency style illustration. The American version is far more intriguing, at least to me.
    Julie, how cool that you live in Malta! The hero of my next book, out next summer, is Maltese and the book starts there. I’ve read some of the ‘clogs and shawls” historical sagas you refer to, and I imagine they’re descendants of Catherine Cookson. Often good books, but not really romances.
    Tonda, much as many of us authors dislike the cliched clinch covers, they do offer a powerful, immediately identifiable marketing symbol that shouts ROMANCE! Over time, other looks have become more common, mercifully, but those tacky covers did help create the modern romance genre as a distinct entity. Sigh.
    Mary Jo, dismally contemplating the state of foreign translations

    Reply
  27. From MJP:
    Estelle, thanks for your insights on reading as a Frenchwoman. Since your English is impeccable, I see why you prefer to dodge bad translations! I’m glad to hear that Amazon France does allow you to order English books with free shipping–it really does bother me that readers in other countries have to pay such a high premium to get books. (And as for your typos–they’re certainly no worse than mine always are!)
    Laura, I read about the Espresson machine a while back, and I was very heartened! I hope it becomes commercially feasible soon. Thanks for the URLs of the Harlequin historical covers. In this case, I like the American one more since I find the artwork better and more interesting. The British one is well executed, but a very standard Regency style illustration. The American version is far more intriguing, at least to me.
    Julie, how cool that you live in Malta! The hero of my next book, out next summer, is Maltese and the book starts there. I’ve read some of the ‘clogs and shawls” historical sagas you refer to, and I imagine they’re descendants of Catherine Cookson. Often good books, but not really romances.
    Tonda, much as many of us authors dislike the cliched clinch covers, they do offer a powerful, immediately identifiable marketing symbol that shouts ROMANCE! Over time, other looks have become more common, mercifully, but those tacky covers did help create the modern romance genre as a distinct entity. Sigh.
    Mary Jo, dismally contemplating the state of foreign translations

    Reply
  28. I look forward to reading that book, Mary Jo! I discovered your books this year when I bought One Perfect Rose on Amazon as an impulse purchase and now I’m hooked! I can’t wait to read more of your books
    Julie

    Reply
  29. I look forward to reading that book, Mary Jo! I discovered your books this year when I bought One Perfect Rose on Amazon as an impulse purchase and now I’m hooked! I can’t wait to read more of your books
    Julie

    Reply
  30. I look forward to reading that book, Mary Jo! I discovered your books this year when I bought One Perfect Rose on Amazon as an impulse purchase and now I’m hooked! I can’t wait to read more of your books
    Julie

    Reply

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