I know this has been a tough time for you. What with newspapers sinking faster than the Titanic and you laying off a bunch of people. So I can understand why you'd be feeling particularly surly and snotty right now. However, is it really necessary to take it out on romance readers?
First, there's the simple fact that once again the L.A. Times Book Festival doesn't have one single romance author anywhere on the program. Not one. There's really no excuse for this. Frankly, the only state with more romance writers per capita than California is Texas. Plus, RWA has some supremely awesome local chapters out here, chock full of writers who I know would fall all over themselves to be a part of your event. So once again, I will not be attending. As tempting as it is to have the chance to bow down before the totally kick ass Mary Higgins Clark - I don't think I could live with myself to support an event that has such an obvious bias towards the largest selling genre of fiction. C'est la vie. We all have a choice. You've been choosing to ignore the romance genre and it's readers, and I'm choosing not to attend. Everybody wins! / end sarcasm
However your recent op-ed-like piece on the recession heating up the romance market really sticks in my craw. One of the sad facts of life is that I always expect the worst when the mainstream media gets it in their heads to do a story about romance novels. I brace myself for the worst, and am pleasantly surprised when I read an article that actually doesn't mention Fabio, sex or bodice-ripping. I tend to get less pissed off if I go in expecting to be belittled and ridiculed. I know, call me wacky.
So I don't know why I was so shocked to read your article. Maybe it was the level of condescension? I mean, I always expect it to be there in any sort of media coverage - but not quite so vehement. Also, I think the surprisingly even-handed New York Times piece lulled me into a state of shocked complacency.
Whenever I give one of my reader's advisory talks on the romance genre to librarians I always tell them one thing.
"If you do not take anything else away from this presentation, at the very least remember this. Do not sneer. Do not condescend. Do not talk down to romance readers. The sad truth is that they expect it. They expect people to treat them like morons. So when someone doesn't? When someone listens to them, and values their reading opinions? They remember. And you'll have an enthusiastic library patron for life. If you do condescend? Expect them to never darken your doorstep again, and they'll tell everyone they know how much you suck. You will be losing a huge potential market for your library. Remember this, and remember it well."The same applies for newspapers, who have just been so shocked that nobody is reading their book coverage anymore. Gee, I wonder why? You've thumbed your nose at genre fiction for so long, and specifically popular romance fiction, that people have taken their book-ish interests to other venues....namely the Evil Internet, where genre fiction at large (not just romance) has exploded across the Blogosphere. We've been accepted here, and we're lovin' it baby!
But like I said earlier, it's all about choice. You're choosing to be asshats, and I'm choosing to get back to my status quo of girding my loins whenever the mainstream media gets it in their heads to talk about romance novels. The New York Times caught me with my pants down. Rest assured, it will not happen again.
Little Miss Crabby Pants