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The Romance Section

After reading Mad’s open letter to Books-A-Million and Amy Knupp’s observations about the Romance section in the book store where she worked, I had to chime in.

See, I used to not have such a high opinion of romance novels. I admit it. Oh, sure, there are some clunkers, but you find that in every genre. But now I don’t know how I ever looked down on romance in the first place. I do understand not liking it — there are genres I don’t like, and I have to admit, I don’t love all the romance subgenres.

But…think about it; humans are genetically wired to mate. Every animal is. That’s how we keep the species going. So for most of us, from the time we start noticing the opposite sex, we start thinking about how we’re eventually going to settle down. Of course, there are varying degrees of WANTING a mate.

Some little girls dream of their weddings from a very young age. Others, like me, think weddings are a giant waste of time and money, and never really gave a whole lot of thought to marriage. (Yes, I eventually got married, but I didn’t spend much money on the wedding…I preferred to spend the money on the honeymoon, which was more for me and hubby than for a bunch of wedding guests who were probably going to speculate on how long the marriage would last anyway.)

Funny…I write romance novels… :tongue:

And then there are those who have no interest in marriage at all. Ever.

But those people still date. They still want companionship. Even the men.

As a species, we NEED companionship. Romance. Mates.

So why do we sometimes look down on romance novels, which are all about this biological imperative?

Take a look at movies. Even action movies for MEN often have romantic subplots. Comedies have romantic subplots. American Pie, that goofy movie that men seem to love…it’s all about MATING! Oh, sure, it seems like it’s all about overactive teen hormones, but at the very core, it’s about relationships. It’s just packaged in a funny high school wrapping.

So anyway, the point of this was that it’s odd how people often look down on romance novels (yet they LOVE American Pie,) but what’s even odder is how sometimes book stores themselves treat romance.

I love my local Barnes and Noble in Green Bay, because the romance section is right in the open, on a main aisle. It proudly screams “Best selling genre in the store.” The employees have been wonderful to me, and I heart them a lot.

But the B&N where I used to live? The romance section was the size of my bathroom, and stuck way in the back of the store in a corner — and not so coincidentally…near the bathrooms. The employees were never overly nice when I went in to sign my books, and on one occasion, they actually refused to put out my new release on release day because the shelves were “too crowded.” That book, Passion Unleashed, didn’t make it onto the shelves in that store until two weeks after release day, even though they had it. I know this, because I signed the books…and they went right back into the storage room.

So…what about you? How do your local book stores and employees rate when it comes to romance? Are you happy with the way you (and your reading choices) are treated, or is there room for improvement?

Note: my blog is still in moderation mode, so if you leave a comment and it doesn’t appear immediately, please be patient. I need to approve all comments and sometimes I’m not available to do that right away!

17 Responses to “The Romance Section”

  1. Stephanie G says:

    The two used bookstores that I go to both have really good Romance sections (of course it is labeled ‘chick lit’) and is in a good spot. They don’t always have what I’m looking for but when they do I usually get them for a great price and they aren’t in bad condition. Some even look like they are brand new.

    As for Borders and Barnes & Noble theirs are ok. I think they need to make a Paranormal Romance section or Urban Fantasy. The books I read are not the cheesy ones that have Fabio on the cover and I don’t really like that they are bunched together. It should be recognized as its own section.

  2. Diana says:

    I like the Romance section of my local Borders. It’s near the front of the store and well stocked. They’re good about putting the new releases out right away. In fact, they have a large display of the Romance & Urban Fantasy new releases front & center. You can’t miss them! They know what sells!!

    Diana @ Book of Secrets

  3. Willa says:

    Well I live out in the boondocks, in a one horse town with no hitching rail – so I have no option, tis Internet ordering all the way . . .

    There is a bookshop chain over here :wink: but their romance section needs a magnifying glass to find it and all the books are what we call Aga Saga’s – the cure for insomnia! They do have a small selection of Nora Roberts titles, generally old ones but that is only because she has an English publisher.

    Want an American author or a Nalini Singh – forget it.

  4. Lea says:

    Funny, I blogged about “glomming” romance novels just today Larissa.

    Well written post as always. Actually I’ve very lucky because I have 3 good book stores within a reasonable driving distance and all have well stocked romance section. Now only two of the three have a good choice of erotic romance but I think that is because of the clientele. I only every had one bookstore employee make a snarky remark when I bought a Lora Leigh book and she was sorry she did. :wub:

    Anyway, yes – here! Here!!

  5. Amber Romero says:

    Hi, Larissa interesting topic. I have two books stores and a used book store out here in the California Desert. Borders, is well stocked and has several isles and tables dedicated to romance. The new books of romance are always on a display near the check out center. I buy most of my new books here or at Target, which is always current with new novels. (I bought EU here on the release date).

    Barnes and Nobles, however, is an altogther different story. This store is attached to a mall. The romance section is in the back with maybe one isle dedicated to this genre. They never have new books on display and the help can’t “help you”.

    The best/most stocked place for romance is the used book store. They have two whole areas for romance, and they break it down into topics. They have contemporary, time travel, paranormal, and historical. Absolutely love it there.

  6. Monica says:

    I have to admit that all of my books are ordered online. Occasionally, I’ll go to the book section in Walmart while grocery shopping. They have the bestsellers and romance novels and like, nothing else. Out in the open. :grin:

    When I was in high school, everyone teased me about the books I read. :sad:

    XOXO, M

  7. Mary G says:

    Hi Larissa
    The 2 Chapters book stores (one near home & one near work) both have good romance sections. They
    both have a separate erotica section. Until last year the one near home did not even file the erotica in alphabetical order by author. You sort of had to look through randomly. I find them inconsistent with their filing system e.g. I’ll see an author’s book in both sections.
    BTW – congrats on your win.

  8. Tanya says:

    The book stores here in Fort Worth, TX are awesome. they are big, and well lite too LoL. They almost have the new books up on the shelf that friday before they are going to be release !!! and if not they have them now at walmart !! which is where i got Ecstasy Unveiled a whole week early !!

  9. Stephenia says:

    We have B&N, Borders and Books a Million. They all have great romance sections and in good locations. Borders shelves the new releases on a special table near the front, so it is a convenient first stopping point. But, I will say, all three stores seem to be confused on what genre some books are, especially the paranormals and more erotic, oversized books. Are they romance or fantasy/sci-fi? I consider your books romance (and your demonica is one of my favorite series out there now). The more urbanish/almost no romance type books, I’d look for in the Fantasy/sci-fi section. B&N also isn’t as good at stocking the oversized books or perhaps they just fly off the shelves faster? But with three niced sized bookstores in our area, there is definately lots of shopping options.

  10. Reneem1 says:

    Borders – has several isles…even displays on the ends. near back…but they usually have a table upfront w a smaller selection.

    B&N – seemed good as well.

    But if I’m looking for something new and it’s not out…I make them go to the back and bring it out!

  11. Viki says:

    All of the local bookstores stink in my area. They never have any of your or Stephanie’s books. I’ve pretty much given up on them and only shop Amazon now.

  12. CatsMeow says:

    I had to laugh when I read this. :laugh: I used to work for Harlequin and could have any book I desired, but I didn’t appreciate Romances as I do now. We’re talking about the early 80’s. I don’t remember if they had any paranormal romance series then, but when my daughter introduced me to that genre a few years back, I haven’t read any other type since.

  13. If you think you have problems in the US to find Romance, let me tell you, you don´t. Compared to us poor romance lovers in Sweden. You hardly ever find any romance in an ordinary bookstore and if you like the paranormal genre, you have two bookstores (same chain) it the whole of Sweden that actually sells paranormal romance.
    Last year when I was in Miami I went to a big shopping mall, found a big book store (I think it was called Books a Million) and I got dizzy with happiness when I found row after row with romance books! I think I bought 10 or some thing. I just went berserk.
    So now I have started a website exclusively for paranormal romance, where I read, review and sell books.
    BTW I am currently reading Pleasure Unbound and I really love it.

  14. Mikaela says:

    Romance section? There is a section for romance. Huh. Here they are intermingled with the rest of the fiction.

    Yeah, Romance is big in Sweden. NOT. Thing is that I think there is an untapped potential, since Martina Haag is popular. Oh well.

    • Amber says:

      You would think with all that lovely COLD weather, people would want to cuddle up and read. Thank goodness for the internet. What kind of reading do they like in Sweden?

  15. Jolene Allcock says:

    We live in a small town and all we have is a walmart two small book stores for used books and some goodwills. I frequent all the stores occasionally on the look out for a book I want. Sometimes is fun to actually find one I’m looking for in a goodwill store. Other times I’m out of luck and have to order onling. Which is ok, but I hate paying shipping. The romance sections in the used book stores are ok, but I like picking up a new author on occasion and then being hooked and backtracking to older books. Once I’m hooked to an author, I’m hooked. I’m a stay at home mom of three kids, and I take my romace books very seriously, and my husband sees the rewards when he get’s home :) Nothing like amping a girl up, feeling good after reading a book and being in a better mood than when you started the book :)

  16. Archer says:

    I love my Barnes and Nobles and feel just about the same about my Borders book store. They both put the Romance section out in front where everyone can see..

    You see I was once one of those who would have never read the genre, then I got introduced to Laurell (which I belive is in the wrong section at most book stores), sorry got side tracked. I was one of THOSE people who looked down on Romance readers until her, and then I found more amazing authors like YOU and Ward and many many more.

    Totally went off topic I think.. I think that the section shouldn’t be set off in the corner like some dirty little secret.. Come on everyone does it why not read about it.


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