This past Saturday, August 17, was Bookstore Romance Day. I had no idea there was such a thing but, to be fair, this was its first occurrence. Though I had no idea about the event, I had in fact signed up a few weeks ago to attend an event on Saturday at a local bookstore that featured a panel of romance writers.
It was purely coincidental.
Honesty compels me to admit that I did not, in fact, attend the event, blowing it off to go see Hamilton instead. I have no regrets.
Anyway, back to Bookstore Romance Day.
According to creators of the event:
Bookstore Romance Day is a day designed to give independent bookstores an opportunity to celebrate Romance fiction—its books, readers, and writers—and to strengthen the relationships between bookstores and the Romance community.
Judging from my newsfeed on Monday, the day was a definite success. Bookstores across the country hosted a variety of events including panel discussions, romance book clubs, and author-bookstore matchmaking.
Sponsors of the event included Romance Writers of America, Sourcbooks Casablanca, and Avon and a number of well-known authors participated, including Loretta Chase who was part of an evening romance writer panel at the Harvard Bookstore.
Some bookstores showed off newly expanced romance sections (yay!), while in Tinley Park, Illinois, owners Marissa and Roseann Backlin held the grand-opening for their romance-only bookstore, Love’s Sweet Arrow, only the second romance-only store in the country (The Ripped Bodice is the other).
According to the Romance Writers of America®, the romance fiction industry is worth more than a billion dollars a year, making it larger than the mystery/science fiction/fantasy genre markets combined. It’s great to see independent bookstores paying more attention to this genre and its dedicated audience of readers.
On social media, many booksellers expressed support for the event which they hope will help:
”combat a stigma about romance books that they say is still too prevalent in bookselling.”
That “stigma” part is just baffling. If the romance genre is so popular with the buying public, you’d think booksellers would be all over themselves trying to cater to those readers and capture their book-buying dollars.
Obviously I’m missing something.
Anyway, I’m hoping this event is the first of many and that it prompts independent bookstores to rethink their romance offerings, especially my local indie bookstore, which currently only has about a dozen or so titles on their romance shelf.
I knew about Bookstore Romance Day because some of the local bookstores had asked our chapter to provide authors for panels and podcasts, so the chapter put out an appeal. I would have loved to attend just to support the idea, but it wasn’t possible. Still, I think it’s great to celebrate and advertise and promote romance novels, because there’s definitely a stigma about them, particularly from people who don’t read them. So the bookstore push could make them more acceptable to that part of the public. Although $1 billion in sales: you’d think that would be quite substantial acceptability.
Is that stigma coming from that same group of people who only read “literature” and sneer at “genre-fiction”? I can’t imagine who else would be looking down on a billion-dollar industry.
I do definitely remember reading romances in high-school and having a friend who despaired over the fact and wanted to know if I was ever going to read “real books”, which in her world-view meant science-fiction.
I think the stigma is from the “literature” people. You know, the ones who like to read depressing books in which the characters never change. Not to be a reverse snob. 🙂
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I talked to the lady who owns the local bookstore that stocks my books about participating. She felt August wasn’t great timing–people’s budgets are tied up with back-to-school. She offered to do something in November, though, so I’m going to ask my chapter to support that when it happens.