Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Give 'em what they want

A blog post from a fellow Sweet Romance Reads author a few weeks back got me thinking about romance and how while we think it’s a great genre, not everyone does. It’s a great irony that some of the folk who work with romance, often don’t like it one bit. Case in point – libraries. A few years back I was researching reader’s advisory and category romance for my masters degree and it was an eye opener.

One of the themes running through the research was a dilemma going back to the early days of romance and it’s still around. Do you give your library users what they want or do you try and “educate” them to read so called “better” fiction? I discovered a lot in my research.

That at one time some libraries actually refused to have romance novels in their collections – as recently as the 1970s. One librarian I interviewed actually said to me she felt sorry for the writers and the readers. (Yep, I had to ask her to repeat it, I couldn’t believe what she was saying.) Other librarians had no idea who local authors were, even though their books were in the collections, were well borrowed, and were even set in the same city.

In your public library you’ll generally find the library manager will have strong ideas on the best way to place romance. Do you put the romances on their own shelves so readers can find them easily? Or do you shelve them in with the general fiction so your romance reader might pick up some ‘better’ books as well. The implication being that romance readers won’t read anything other than romance. My local libraries have the romance separated out but at a library I used to work at, they were interspersed with the fiction. I can see pros for both – it’s good to read widely, after all – but my preference? To have the romances in their own shelves.

What about you? If you’re a library user, what is your preference for shelving romance novels? (And check out my staged "library" pic in my lounge, above, featuring a fellow Sweet Romance Readers author. I even alphabetised for the camera!)

Joanne Hill’s new book “Return to Frazier Bay” is a sweet romance set in the South Island of New Zealand. It is available now on pre-order exclusively to the iBooksStore. It will be released on May 3rd. You can follow Jo on Twitter at @joanneauthor and also like her Facebook page.


  1. Great topic here! I practically grew up in the library of my home town. Once I found romance novels (and fell in LOVE), I found them shelved in their own section, and that's what I prefer.

  2. Here, they have racks of paperbacks by genre, so that's where I go first. The trade size paperbacks and hardbacks are all classed alphabetically as fiction, except mysteries have a section. What that does is keeps me from discovering new authors, as it's not as easy to notice the titles when I'm skimming over non-romance ones next to the authors I know. They really do need a romance section!

  3. I hardly ever go to the library anymore (and the nearest brick and mortar bookstore is 45 minutes away). I did like a romance section

  4. Interesting topic. If I'd been doing that research, I'd have got a bit cross. I hate when people try to impose their ideas of what is best on other people. I don't visit my local library much anymore, I read ebooks and do my research on the internet. I can't remember how they shelved their books.

  5. Here, I have found that it is like Aileen mentioned. Paperbacks are in romance but the larger books or hardbacks are in fiction. I tend to use the electronic catalog and rarely skim the shelf anymore (except recently at the airport), so it doesn't seem to matter quite as much anymore.

  6. In the library near where I live, there is a romantic section, but only the small mass-market paperbacks. OTherwise, they are interspersed throughout the A-Z on the shelves with everything else. I like it this way.