Thursday, March 06, 2008

Are there too many romance novels being published these days?

Today at Romancing the Blog, Kassia Krozser writes that she is "terrified by the number of romance novels published each month." Yeah, I think she's indulging in a little hyperbole there; I really don't think she's that easy to frighten. But she writes:

The industry is burgeoning — new players every day. The industry is changing — new formats are ascending. The industry is morphing — new genres and sub-genres are emerging.

But are romance readers really being served? Are the books being published, sold, really the best of the best? Or, as I suspect, are we seeing an increase in quantity with a slackening of quality?

Yep, that's right: She'd like to see a limited selection of books on the shelves, and she'd like all of those books to be of high quality. She writes:

What if there were fewer books but the [reading] experience was more satisfying?

Kassia knows that I admire her and have been a faithful reader of her blog, Booksquare for several years. But every once in a while she writes something downright goofy, and here's a fine example of that. The problem with her suggestion that only "the best of the best" books should be published is that she would want to decide which books were worthy of shelf space. And since she and I have very different reading tastes, I'd worry that she would advocate trashing some of the books I consider treasures.

I happen to agree with Kassia that the romance sections of today's bookstores are mostly full of junk. But since Kassia and I--and the rest of you--will never agree on exactly which books deserve to be published and which don't, I think that broad selection is a very good thing for all of us.


Kristin said...

Publishers would not be printing more romance, if it were not selling. The good authors will make the sales and stick around, the not-so-good authors will not get anymore contracts.

It doesn't matter how many books you print in what genre...there will always been those that sell well because they are written well, and those that don't sell well because they weren't written well.

Personally, I, too, like more variety and that means more authors with more ideas. Bring 'em on!

Robin Bayne said...

Love the variety!! And who would decide what was "quality?"

Raul said...

There used to be great paperbacks and they were made into movies. They are really direct descendants of the dime-novel, which was created for less literate people with limited vocabularies. Now, because of the success of some paperbacks (The Virginian, the Immigrants, etc.), other sectors of the industry of far less quality took advantage of this and they are simply pumping stuff out like it was pasta--always cheap and plenty at the supermarket.
What the lady was probably saying is that people aren't trying hard enough perhaps because in that environment writers immediately get locked into production mode. As we all know, mass production is not the greatest thing. When the quality of a mass produced good is high, the price often reflects it.

Taking price into consideration, I looked up the publisher of a novel that cost $5.99 in 1999 (rhyme unintentional) and guess what? If you are a club member, it's $4.99; $6.99, otherwise. It has been a whole decade!

I am convinced that you have no choice but to pick them yourself. It's either the hard stuff or whatever is on the shelf, either one. Take your pick.