Monday, October 22, 2012

Bookstores and Romance

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?


Amber Lin said...

This has been my experience with bookstores in the US. The large Barnes & Noble near my home has only one shelf of romance, far in the back, facing the wall. I've shopped there since I was a teenager and I remember scouring the "Fiction" (aka. Literary fiction) section for books that looked like they would have a happy ending. I didn't even know to ask about a "Romance" section since I didn't know the genre existed. I went back as an adult, having found and read many romances through online recommendations, and with such a small selection, they don't even have my favorites. Sad.

Anonymous said...

I'm Australian, I read mostly Ebooks these days but before I discovered them I purchased my books in book stores, department stores and secondhand book stores. There is usually many shelves of romance books. The erotic romance shelves are generally much smaller or mixed with regular romance or sometimes nonexistent. I have not purchased any paperbacks for quite sometime though.
Romance books are still easy to find in bookstores here.

ECPI Editors said...

Glad to hear that the Aussie bookstores appreciate romance -- and what those sales can do for their bottom line. ;-)