Monday, August 10, 2009

Top Five: Romance Paperbacks

When I took my current job buying adult fiction I was coming from one of our smaller libraries, with practically zero budget. Two things that really bothered me while I was "out there" working with the public? We never got new Large Print and I was the sole supplier for my branch's romance paperback section. So when I took this job? Yeah, I was determined to order both using our central budget funds.

It's been a long, slow, slog but our patrons are now starting to discover that, "Hey, the library seems to be buying romance novels in paperback!" After years of not doing so, I'm sure we chased many of these readers off, thereby effectively hurting our circulation. But now....I'm in charge. And while I'm not ordering nearly the amount of titles and copies that I should be (despite some complaints my boss received about me early on), the waiting lists are starting to get healthy on paperbacks. Here are the Top 5 Romance Novels, Paperback Originals currently for my library system.

What Happens In London by Julia Quinn, wait list = 21 - Quinn is probably our most popular author of historical romance when it comes to paperback format. Given that she's a usual fixture on the various bestseller lists, this doesn't exactly come as much of a shock.

Mastered By Love by Stephanie Laurens, wait list = 20 - Circulates well regardless of series and what format she's publishing in. Her hard covers do just as well as the paperbacks. Again, she's a usual suspect on the bestseller lists, so this is no surprise.

Hidden Currents by Christine Feehan, wait list = 15 - All of her series do well, and I fully expect her next hard cover, Dark Slayer, to be off the charts for us. This is the 7th book in the Drake Sisters series.

92 Pacific Boulevard by Debbie Macomber, wait list = 14 - Harlequin has really been giving Macomber the full court press the last couple of years, and it's really starting to show. She was popular to begin with, but now I think she's starting to enter that realm of "household name." This is the 9th book in the popular Cedar Cover series and doesn't come out for a couple more weeks. I suspect my waiting list will climb some more once people start seeing the book in stores.

Bending The Rules by Susan Andersen, wait list = 11 - I'll be honest, this is the only book that kind of surprises me, even though Andersen has been a bestseller. My theory? I know several of our librarians who are fans, and I suspect they're hand-selling to patrons. Which I think is grand.


LoriK said...

You know what's almost as evil as a library not buying romance novels in paperback? Buying them, but not putting them in the catalog in the usual author and title way, but instead putting them in as "paperback 12345 5678 9123".

If you don't happen to see it on the shelf you have no way of knowing that the library has it and you certainly have no way of getting on a wait list for it. They do this at LA County and here in DC.

Is is especially sucktastic for those of us who are reliant on smaller branches and rarely get to the main library. HATE!

This is of course not your fault. I just desperately needed to bitch about it and didn't have anywhere else to do it.

Big Sis said...

I see a lot of people reading Debbie Macomber books. Remember the "pen leash" you gave me from an RWA conference? Since then I've noticed at least one patient a month with a Debbie Macomber title on their bedside table.
(PS random remark: The word verification for my post was "bentstyle". How appropriate).

catie james said...

I so wish my county's library system would add more paperbacks to the catalog. *le sigh* I check out all the books I can possibly find from my wishlist, but when it comes to p.b.s it's either trolling the used book stores, hoping copies turn up at Bookmooch (and that I'm lucky enough to snag the prize before someone else does), or in the case of those "can't live withouts"--buying brand new copies at $8 a pop. Ouch!

Chris said...

Wow. Ok, I am so spoiled, and gaining a better appreciation of it! I live in the Hennepin County Library system (Twin Cities, MN), which now includes the Minneapolis libraries. It's a big system (49 reserves on 36 copies of Hidden Currents, for example), with a lot of lovely tech amenities, such as alert lists for authors you like - I get emails each time the library orders something by one of my selected authors.

Liza said...

My library is pretty good about buying romance novels in paperback. Either that or lots of people are donating their books every month. My library didn't use to have the paperbacks in the system, but that changed about 3 years ago.

JamiSings said...

The librarian at my branch only likes non-fiction, and then only if it's non-religious. (Though he's also a fan of graphic novels.) I keep pointing out to him that it's not about what we want. Plus we're across the street from TWO churches so we HAVE to have religious stuff as well as fiction. (Besides, most of the staff is Catholic, plus one Buddhist, one new ager, and of course me - Jewish by ancestry and by belief and someday officially converted, but raised protestant. Man, I could be a novel all by myself. LOL)

Since I read fiction even though I'm a clerk he'd told me he's going to rely on me to suggestion fiction books. Though he might not be serious.

Luckily for our romance paperbacks this one woman donated practically brand new Harlequins once a month. But boy, I sure could use a nice long list of fiction selections - not just romance but mysteries, suspense, horror, comical, and those long winded novels that are like a written version of a Life Time movie to give to him. Something five or six pages long so I can say "These are fiction recommendations from the internet. It should keep you busy for a year."

Seriously Wendy, your library is lucky to have you. Especially the clerks cause it seems we get the most complaints about our collections. We have a large number of people whom check out for homebound patrons and paperback romances and mysteries are the big draw. They get a slew of them at a time and I have to hear "My mother/father/patient/friend had read all these already! When will you get some new ones?" a LOT.

Wendy said...

LoriK: Sigh. Sadly it's a common problem, although I do think it's getting better. Not cataloging goes against everything libraries are about. My suggestion to these libraries is to at least put up "minimal" catalog records. Author, title, ISBN and maybe a subject heading. At least make them searchable!

Big Sis: I had forgotten about that pen on a lease! Debbie Macomber is getting mad advertising at the hospital LOL

Catie: Shrinking budgets don't help matters either. Things like paperbacks, Large Print and AV tend to get axed when budgets tank, and they be tanking right now.

Chris: Hennepin is a very good library system, and yes - you should take advantage of them as much as possible :)

Liza: We started cataloging pbs around 2003 - which predates my hiring on. Prior to that? We had paperbacks in system but nobody knew just "what" we had. Totally defeats the purpose of a library.

Jami: I order them, but budget constraints mean I don't order all the titles I want, or even all the copies I *think* we could use. Sadly. Also I still feel I'm kinda pushing against some of the old guard when it comes to paperback snobbery. Although we have lots of new people on staff, which has been great and given us some new energy.

And reading your comment gave me an idea. Another project to mull over......

JamiSings said...

Wendy, if you do what I think you mean to do, not only will I love you forever, but any book you pick out where the heroine is not a simpering, helpless virgin* I will read and read with an open mind.

*(I can't help it. I like characters I can relate to and while I'm not a virgin, I can very much be simpering and helpless! LOL)

Lori said...

Are you sure you don't want to move up here? I'm sure Ventura County needs you. I had to order the new Karen Rose via California ILL, cause not just my branch, but the entire VC library system didn't order it. Just sayin.

nath said...

Do you want to move in Montreal and take over our library system? Please, please, pretty please! :)

That's one of an issue I have with my library, buying mostly hardcover romances and not paperbacks. By the way, does your library process the paperbacks and make them hardcovers?

Mira/HQN is really promoting Debbie Macomber, so I'm not surprised at how popular she is. I liked some of her books.

PS - how long does it usually take to process a book? Is it normal that no copies of Burn is available yet at my library? I mean, it's been a month since its release.

Wendy said...

Jami: Well, I talked over my idea with my boss yesterday. I have a suspicion it will come back to bite me in the ass, but I'm leaning towards running with it right now and consequences be damned.

Lori: I pimped Karen Rose at a recent meeting. Seriously. I think she has mad crossover appeal. She's got a romance to keep the romance fans happy and damn high body counts to keep suspense fans happy. I bought the new one but our copies aren't in yet :( Only 5 people on the waiting list so far though....

And we won't loan it to Ventura County. Sorry! We don't ILL anything that "new." Hopefully someone will hook ya up!

Nath: Yeah, a lot of times it's snobbery against the format. But honestly? As hard cover book binding quality has taken a dive in recent years, the argument that paperbacks don't "last" doesn't hold water anymore.

We put a clear, hard plastic cover on our paperbacks - but that's it. No other special "processing" for them.

Oh, and yeah. They should have Burn available. It's been a month. But a lot of libraries won't catalog ANYTHING until the item is in hand. The minute I order something? Yeah, up on the catalog it goes so people can place holds. And while our cataloging department can get backed up, they usually do a pretty decent job of moving stuff out.

JamiSings said...

Well, Wendy, the offer of reading any (obviously romance) novel you recomend if you do it will probably bite me in the tuchus too. LOL But it'll be worth it if I can hand over a list and say "Okay, here's fiction recomendations for you."

nath said...

Oh, it's in the catalog already. I just mean that the actual copies are not available yet. Still in processing... but it's been a month already ^_^;

I don't get the format snobs, really. I understand why hardcovers are more popular in libraries. I mean, they cost more, so less people buy them and go to the libraries instead to borrow them. At least, that's the logic... but there are so many more books that never make it trade-size or hardcovers... and to not carry part of them? It sucks.

JamiSings said...

Nath - I don't know about other libraries, but for us it's actually a matter of money, even before the economy went kablooy we rarely bought paperbacks. However we LOVE it when patrons donate new or near-new paperbacks to us. We'll do anything to add them even if it's not in the system already. I would say 97% of near-new paperbacks donated to us get added.

We'd just prefer the money going to hardbacks because they usually last longer. So like with DVDs, we depend on the kindness of patrons.

Though we buy new children's paperbacks all the time. However for adults - we love us some donations.