Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Monday News: Blogging and free speech; pink is an illusion; historical...

“The Ninth Circuit properly reversed, finding that the First Amendment protects bloggers no less than the institutional press and that Cox was writing about issues of legitimate public concern.  On retrial, the plaintiffs will have to establish that Cox was negligent in publishing the statements at issue — and that’s all well and good.  I want to spend a little time, though, thinking about the tail end of the decision, in which the Ninth Circuit discusses a specific group of Cox’s statements that both the Ninth Circuit and the district court held to be non-actionable opinion.” Digital Media Law Project

“So I see a lot of blame going on for how this author lost print distribution, but nobody’s mentioned the fact that historical romance shelf-space, in general, is falling precipitously. There are other amazing authors who are having the exact same thing happen to them as we speak.” Courtney Milan’s Blog

“I’m bothered that C.S./Susanne saw an OLD blog post by me that said I sold as well as I did without promotion, which was true at the time. It’s NO LONGER true. I promote now. Nor did she Tweet as infrequently as she claimed. Go look at her Tweets. She did promote the book. What she did was capitalize on MY platform without giving me credit so she can set herself up as a guru and make money on a how-to book. “ Barbara Rogan – In Cold Ink

“As a number of observers have explained — including Jeff in his Gigaom piece — the court’s decision wasn’t based on a belief that net neutrality itself is a bad thing, but a view that the FCC implemented its rules in a legally questionable way. If it wanted to prevent ISPs from giving preferential treatment to certain content providers, the communications regulator could have defined internet service providers as “common carriers,” as it did with telecom companies — but the FCC didn’t do that. “ Gigaom

isn't sure if she's an average Romance reader, or even an average reader, but a reader she is, enjoying everything from literary fiction to philosophy to history to poetry. Historical Romance was her first love within the genre, but she's fickle and easily seduced by the promise of a good read. She approaches every book with the same hope: that she will be filled from the inside out with something awesome that she didnʼt know, didnʼt think about, or didnʼt feel until that moment. And she's always looking for the next mind-blowing read, so feel free to share any suggestions!


  1. Jayne
    Jan 20, 2014 @ 07:05:19

    I wonder do we need to start a Save the Historical campaign? Check out Janine’s new review of “The Lotus Palace” which will post later this morning.

  2. Lynnd
    Jan 20, 2014 @ 09:26:09

    @Jayne: I would love a save the historical campaign only if it promotes really good and interesting historicals such as the Lotus Palace. Personally, I am so bored with m0st of the English-set Regency b00ks being published now (except for a very few authors), that I would not greatly their passing.

    Courtney Milan’s article on the demise of print historicals is very interesting. I buy almost all of by books digitally now, except for books I buy as presents. I was in my local Chapters store for the first time in months at the beginning of this past December. More than half of the store is taken up by toys and other “stuff”. The adult-fiction books (including both general fictiion and all genre fiction) section is now just a small corner of the store. If they did have a title of anything other than a bestseller, there was only one or two copies. More often then not, there were no copies of the books I was looking for, including many new releases. I had to ask the staff to get some of them from the back because they hadn’t been shelved yet. This was true for mysteries as well as romance. I didn’t look in the SFF section this time, but I assume the same applies. I was completely frustrated by the time I left and ended up buying non-book gifts for most of the people on my list.

    Going to the bookstore and just browsing the shelves used to be one of my favourite things to do and I often walked away with at least one book and I went to the bookstore at least once a month. Given the experience I had, I expect that I will not go back for several months until birthday season rolls around. If my local indie would have a better romance selection, to go with their mystery selection, I expect that I would go there instead.

  3. Lynnd
    Jan 20, 2014 @ 09:27:16

    My words got eaten – “…I would not greatly mourn their passing”

  4. Steph from
    Jan 20, 2014 @ 09:53:27

    Thanks for this article it was really helpful to me; I need to follow these legal things more closely.
    I only get print books that are signed, except for ARCs. All my friends are on readers as well so I buy them e-books as gifts as well.
    Exceptions are reference books. Unless a reference is set up as a website it seems to be ungainly in e-book format; it’s hard to flip from one page and note where you were.

  5. Sunny
    Jan 20, 2014 @ 14:25:06

    Courtney Milan’s post is really eye-opening, but not really shocking for me. I worked the holiday season at a large chain bookstore I had worked at three years prior, and the first thing I noticed was that the Romance section had been moved to the very back of the store, had lost the Harlequin endcap of new releases, and the mass-market new releases (that are a paid spot, about 50% romance) had been hidden behind all of the ipads and speakers. Of Historicals, which are my favourites to read, the number had been cut way down and I honestly had a hard time finding any authors I enjoy (definitely no Courtney Milan or Jeannie Lin :( ).

    I asked a couple of managers about it, and they brushed it off as Romance not being that big a genre for the store. Except… I’ve seen the breakdowns at major staff meetings, and it’s been the mover of over 40% of mass markets sold (a whole lot are returned, which is in line with Courtney Milan’s experience), and something like 30% of all fiction sales (and Fiction is 60% of all store income). That’s an awfully huge slice for something that has only a few shelves devoted to it now! When I brought any of this up I got shrugs and was told it wasn’t a big deal, and I was weird to be defending it as a genre. Anyone other genre, people would let me put books on display or recommend tabling some new releases, but Romance was always summarily dismissed.

    We had a sad couple of tables for Valentines (yeah January 1st), and when I suggested moving some other authors out there instead of just devoting the entire tables to Fifty Shades of Grey (or Nicholas Sparks, which is never a happy ending) repeated over and over again to move some of the Romance hardcovers and trades, I was told we were just going to return them anyway so not to bother.

    It spoke pretty plainly that the flagship store of the country had zero interest in Romances or the buyers thereof, and seem to expect it to be a self-moving genre — despite both the shrinking shelf space and the lack of interest by staff, which is a full 180 from how the rest of their customer service and genre knowledge is dealt with. When I chatted people cashing out who were buying romances, they were always surprised when I exclaimed how much I liked an author or a series or wanted to read it instead of just stuffing them face-down into a bag. I had a lovely conversation with a woman who must have been over 80 about the new Mary Balogh, and she said that no one in the store had ever wanted to chat about her with the books she enjoyed. And yet that’s what the staff are supposed to do, find out what customers enjoy, and make recommendations based thereon. The ONLY book resembling a romance that was on display was The Rosie Project, and I hand-sold nearly a hundred copies of it because it was right there on the table, and sold another 80-odd copies of Fangirl to mostly adults. I kept track. I got a letter from the CEO thanking me. But that was somehow attributed to my mind-control selling powers, instead of… people wanting to read about love.

    Sorry for the essay, it was just such an exercise in frustration! I have yet to find a local bookstore that has a romance section at all, except for the thrift stores.

  6. azteclady
    Jan 20, 2014 @ 14:43:59

    On net neutrality: wired also has a couple of interesting articles on the topic.

  7. Megaera
    Jan 20, 2014 @ 18:20:22

    I went back and forth with Lakin when she guest-posted on Joel Friedlander’s The Book Designer blog a few weeks ago, because I get very frustrated with those “silver bullet” posts about promotion and marketing. She wouldn’t answer questions even when asked straight out, and was extremely defensive without backing herself up.

    Then she claimed that tweeting about the pseudonymed book using her own authorial twitter handle wasn’t promotion. That’s when I figuratively walked out in disgust.

  8. DeeCee
    Jan 20, 2014 @ 18:41:33

    I work in a UBS and I hear quite often about the lack of historical romances (and western romances) and that usually precedes how crappy the overall selection is at the local Hastings stores and the Walmart stores. One woman in particular spends $100/month online shopping for historical books because there is nothing available locally and it’s her only form of entertainment. I know I personally would buy a heck of a lot more books at the grocery stores if the options were wider. It seems like everyone is cutting book sections down drastically and focusing on either NYT bestselling authors or the latest fad (from Harry Potter, Twilight, 50 Shades…). I know it’s a bigger risk to shelve newbie authors but the genre needs some new blood (and I would welcome a reprieve from 50 Shades and the many many knock offs).

  9. jamie beck
    Jan 20, 2014 @ 19:28:12

    I love historical romance novels (and I really love Ms. Milan’s books). I find her post about print sales fascinating.

    I’ll admit to not knowing much about how bookstores operate, so I won’t pretend to speak intelligently about it, but I noticed something just yesterday that really bugged me. I was in one of my favorite, very large independent bookstores (in Vermont). It’s a great rambling store (with a wonderfully knowledgeable staff), but, for the first time, I realized how few books were really “featured” and how many others were stuffed in nooks and crannies without any fanfare. Upon entering the store, one of the first shelves one passes was “new fiction”…and there were about two dozen very popular books displayed (covers out)…such as Goldfinch, The Rosie Project, Life After Life, Beautiful Ruins, etc. Then I kept meandering and came upon a table in the center of the store with “top picks”…and again saw those same books prominently displayed with little write-ups by the staff. Finally, not far from that table (but along a prominent wall) was a “best sellers” shelf and, again, those same books were all aligned (cover out) for all to see. So, within a couple of hundred square feet, very few books were getting a TON of sales push. Meanwhile, the “romance” section was practically hidden behind a stairwell, and consisted of literally three smallish shelves and slim pickings (even big name authors within the genre only had one or two of their titles there).

    It seems to me that, if publishers “pay” for certain spots in bookstores, they are doing themselves a disservice to throw so much promotion behind so few books. As a reader, I would love to see a bigger selection of “featured” books (especially by new authors). I would probably end up buying more books overall out of sheer excitement for a variety of voices and stories.

  10. Stumbling Over Chaos :: Linkity. Making people late for work since 2009. Whoops.
    Jan 24, 2014 @ 07:50:53

    […] and publishing news from Dear […]

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