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Pride & Predjudice in Romancelandia

Posted by Mistress on January 7, 2009

Jessica over at Racy Romance Reviews has kicked off the new year with some fascinating questions and statistics. So do our Bookish colored glasses and community distort our perceptions of the reality of publishing aspects/book sales and typical reading habits? I’m dying to hear your thoughts on the matter after the jump, here’s mine.

I’m blessed in the fact that 9/10 of my close friends read constantly, but, we’re all so genre specific that its hard to have a meeting of the minds. I ended up slumming on the net looking for anyone who would discuss Anita Blake’s downward slide into slut with me that I didn’t have to kidnap and subdue. The angels sang when I stumbled upon B&N book club forums. It was a whole new world just, like Aladdin promised, it blew my mind, there was no way life could get any better. Then I started blogging, discovered you fine folks in the blog community, and it did. = )

I think it’s human nature driving us to choose select niches and commit. In fact I think the higher your read count the more genre conditions/quirks you’ll develop. If only from a higher exposure to good and bad stimulus, resulting brutally clear compartmentalizing of our likes and dislikes. Attempting to choose enjoyable books, I have ended up with a downright anal method of choosing books to purchase. The distinctions our lil’ club uses to classify contemporary is caused by the natural reality of book buying. People and books are rarely snowflakes. Especially when it comes to romance they’re just slightly altered retellings of the same old story. We like what we like and we buy what we buy, the easier the publisher makes it for use to find our tome of choice the better ( also the more likely we are to blindly buy an unknown author based on section placement). IMO the publishers classification is too broad, but it can’t be helped since that their understanding of the market and methods are rather out dated ( like Jane’s discussing over @DA). Maybe I’m just jaded but I’ve been reading for so long that Sue Everyday trying to make her way in the world and chances upon some decent man flesh is rarely enough to hold my interest anymore. Without the genre touches/ tweaks of suspense, para, or mystery chick lit; my eyes tend to glaze over & I start skimming to hasten my freedom.

On appealing to the 1-5 books a year reader, I don’t have the foggiest clue on how to snare them. My lil’ piece of the web is way too snarky and playfully off-kilter for the faint of heart. Personally I’m too far gone to take off my bling’d out blinkers anytime soon. I do think they count as readers and their voice is valid. But something magical happens to those who consume novels with abandon, it surpasses hobby and becomes a vital part of who we are, what we talk about, the lingo we use/create, and a sort of book-centric humor that develops. When after intense exposure we start to play with the concepts/landscape found in the books we’re reading, become more proactive in our enjoyment and end up with a changed perception. It strengthens our force as consumers more than it hinders our comprehension, me thinks.

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4 Responses to “Pride & Predjudice in Romancelandia”

  1. Jessica said

    You wrote: “Personally I’m too far gone to take off my bling’d out blinkers anytime soon. I do think they count as readers and their voice is valid. But something magical happens to those who consume novels with abandon, it surpasses hobby and becomes a vital part of who we are, what we talk about, the lingo we use/create, and a sort of book-centric humor that develops. When after intense exposure we start to play with the concepts/landscape found in the books we’re reading, become more proactive in our enjoyment and end up with a changed perception. It strengthens our force as consumers more than it hinders our comprehension, me thinks.” (sorry – I am html challenged)I think it is definitely true that fangirls can have a deep knowledge of their favored subjects that casual fans do not. And I think you have also just given me an explanation for why fangirls in romance become writers of romance (I had always wondered about this).But I also think we bloggers sometimes write as is we SPEAK for the romance community and it seems ot me this cannot be right, much of the time. Thanks for the linkage — so nice ot discover new blogs!

  2. Mistress said

    After penning a thorough response blogger has chosen to eat it instead of post. Grrrr ok let try this again, lol. It was great happening upon your blog too = ). I love your fish bowl post, nice to know other ruminate over these kinds of issues also. I understand what you mean about us appearing to speak for the masses, we don’t in truth. I do think the small select group we do speak for is of more importance when it comes to $ and therefore more powerful; especially in regards to the power players in Romancelandia like Smart Bitches and Dear Author. Even if 50 % of readers only buy 1-5 a year, it’s no wonder the pub’s drool at the chance to shine in the presence of us fan gals who buy 1- 5 a week. I spend about $300 a month on books, which I eventually donate to my local Library ( not including the books I buy as presents), spread word of mouth re: what I’m reading in viral proportions; I’m an authors wet dream, lmao. The way I see it’s us or nothing. Similar to closed mouths not being fed, the legion of casual readers not intent on getting their voice out there won’t be heard. Such is life.On the fans to writers phenomena, I’ve observed the same rings true in the Urban fantasy, mystery, and sci fi circles as well.

  3. bardsong said

    I really enjoyed reading both Jessica’s post and your response to it. I generally suck at being erudite in random comments, which is why I’m usually a lurker, but I’m trying to be better.I just don’t get the mindset anymore of being one of those 1-5 books a year readers. I mean, there are so many worlds to explore in books, and having grown up reading anything and everything I could, which wasn’t much considering the fact that ebooks hadn’t been invented yet and all I had was Braille and audio books, I just don’t get it when people say, “I don’t have time to read.” Because I can’t imagine not making that time.And yeah. I like what I like. I’m always willing to try new things, and I’m still a relative newbie to some genres–I’ve only really been reading romance for about a year and a half. But I think for me, the community has given me the opportunity to talk clearly about what works and what doesn’t in what I read. I mean, if I say that some heroine is TSTL, y’all know what I mean, and that’s comforting.As to how to get those 1-5 books a year people, that I don’t know. I can’t even get my mom and sister, both of whom are avid romance readers, to look at TGTBTU, let alone read anything *I* have to say there. So as a marketing force for the more casual readers, I am made of fail.

  4. Mistress said

    I’m glad my babbling made sense, Bard. = ) I agree with you about the “almost never” reading crowd. I don’t truly see them as “readers”. Vain I know, but this is my sport, or (if I was less dramatic) my hobby. Someone who’s played volleyball once or twice in in HS gym class doesn’t make them a volley ball player and reading twice a year in my opinion doesn’t make you a reader..not really anyway, lol.

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