by Raelene Gorlinsky
You think romance novels have a low rep in the U.S.? Some people look down on you for reading "bodice rippers" or "porn"? (Of course, almost all these are people who've never actually read a romance themselves, know nothing about the genre.) Well, at least U.S. bookstores (online and physical) recognize that half of all fiction paperbacks sold in this country are romance, and so from a business perspective support the genre.
Not so in other countries.
I've always heard that bookstores in the U.K. carry little romance. When I was there in April, I went to the largest bookstore in London. It took some searching, but I finally found the romance section--three rows in a very short section. And facing the wall--you couldn't see it from anywhere else on the floor, you had to be actually looking for it.
Most bookstores in Germany are small independents, and I was told carry little romance. Frankfurt does have a newish very large bookstore (part of a chain, I think), something the Germans are still getting used to. Four floors--Rebecca and I roamed the whole thing. NO romance section. They do carry bestselling books, such as the German translation of Fifty Shades of Grey. And they have a small Science Fiction & Fantasy section that had some paperbacks of what we might label paranormal romance (Gail Carriger, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Larissa Ione, etc.). There was literary fiction and the classics, poetry and plays, a small section of mysteries and thrillers, a children's and YA department. Most of the store was nonfiction: cookbooks, reference and technical works, biographies, history. Oh, they did have a section promoting ebooks, featuring the store's own branded e-reader.
So maybe here in the U.S. we should consider ourselves lucky that we can so easily find romance books.
Any of you checked out bookstores in other countries? What's your experience with them?