Sep 7 2010
Publishers Weekly is one of the more democratic mainstream review publications and has been reviewing romance for quite some time. PW has decided to eliminate the mass market review section and replace it with dedicated genre sections. Romance will have its very own space edited by Rose Fox, a journalist who reads and appreciates romance. This means that all romance will be reviewed together regardless of format (hardcover, trade or paper – no ebooks yet) and topic (paranormal next to historical next to inspirational next to African American etc). Along with the romance books will be question and answer sections devoted to romance genre related topics. I asked Rose a few questions about the upcoming feature:
1) What will you consider romance (ie. differentiating between UF / Paranormal, etc)
For the titles where it’s not obvious, I’ll decide case by case based on the input of the book’s publisher and my fellow editors.
2) Will you be doing category review?
I’m open to submissions of romance novels of any kind, though of course we can’t review everything. I would especially love to see more submissions from independent presses (though no self-published books, please) and more titles featuring people who aren’t straight white well-off Anglophones. I feel very strongly that the romance section should reflect the diversity of romances and romance readers. When in doubt, any publisher who wants to know whether or how to submit romance titles for review consideration is welcome to look through our submission guidelines [http://publishersweekly.com/pw/corp/submissionguidelines.html] and then email me if they still have questions.
3) Will you be having editorial features besides reviews in the romance section?
Yes, we’ll continue to feature noteworthy romance titles in our Pick of the Week and signature reviews, and noteworthy romance authors in profiles and Q&As. Romance publishers should feel free to send me pitches for any of those (no guarantees, of course).
4) Will there be these distinct sections for all genres?
In addition to our main fiction section, there’s already a mystery reviews section (edited by Peter Cannon) and an SF/fantasy/horror reviews section (edited by yours truly), and those will continue to run as they have.
5) Will this still be oriented to the trade or do you want to reach consumers who might subscribe to RT?
PW is still absolutely a trade publication, though of course anyone who wants to subscribe is welcome to!
I think this is fantastic of Publishers’ Weekly and I can’t wait to see the new and revamped magazine.
Profits are up at most publishing houses. What a difference a year makes, right? Because of bestsellers like Stieg Larsson’s series and Sarah Palin’s book, Random House and HarperCollins both saw increases in sales and revenue. Simon & Schuster, which lacks a big powerhouse hit, saw a better return given that it decreased its operating costs. Penguin has had the most success because of consistent hits like The Help by Kathryn Stockett and Charlaine Harris. Ebooks accounted for 8% of adult trade titles by the end of June.
HarperCollins is rebranding its Science Fiction/Fantasy imprint to reflect a worldwide imprint comprised of EOS and the UK/Australia/New Zealand line called Voyager. The new global imprint will be called HarperCollins Voyager. I hope that this means that HC Voyager will be buying world digital rights and releasing digital copies simultaneously in e-format.
In a disturbing update on digital media ownership, the 9th Circuit has appeared to rule that digital downloads via the iTunes store are merely licensed and not sold. This would mean that you aren’t truly in ownership of the songs and other digital media purchased through the iTunes store and at other vendors with similar contractual language.
But in reviewing a decision in a suit brought against Universal Music Group by producers affiliated with rapper Eminem, a three judge panel of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held that iTunes downloads (even the DRM-free variety) are encumbered by enough restrictions that they can't be considered sales at all.
If I don’t own my digital products, then I either expect the price to drop dramatically or I will have to go back to buying paper books and converting them, by hand, into digital copies.
If you have a little time and interest in critical examination of romance, I would urge you to take a read (or two) at the discussion prompted by a blog post of Katharine Beutner. Beutner is a graduate student and author of the critically acclaimed Alcestis. According to her blog post, Beutner has taught a course on romance book narratives largely based on the traditional regency romance (I believe that is what is to be gleaned from the comments).
Beutner presents a traditional romance narrative structure based upon Janice Radway’s conclusions of what an ideal romance is beginning with the building block of “the heroine’s social identity is destroyed.” The comments contain a dizzying number of articulate replies from individuals like our own Robin (aka Janet), Jessica of ReadReactReview.com, Carolyn Jewel, Eric Selinger and Laura Vivanco from Teach Me Tonight, and author Jeannie Lin.
Two things struck me as I read this. First, the having academics who love and study romance is going to do a lot for increasing the respect given to the genre. Second, the open exchange of ideas and information that took place in that thread was remarkable. I give Beutner a lot of credit for being open minded and taking criticism of her off the cuff blog post with graciousness.
I hope if you have a moment, you’ll take the time to read it.