I spend plenty of time reading romances with a critical eye or criticizing the world of romance and/or publishing in general. At a website like this one, that’s just the nature of the beast. Maybe it’s the approaching Thanksgiving holiday here in the United States or perhaps reorganizing my books has been making me nostalgic, but I can’t help thinking of all the things I’m actually thankful for in my reading life.
The Internet – I certainly had internet access in college, but romance sites had not yet started to proliferate the way the have today. Since print reviewers pretty much turned their noses up at romance, my choices were dictated more by word of mouth and what looked good to me at the bookstore. I didn’t know too many people who would admit to reading those books and a lot of the cover art in the 90s was pretty vile, so you can imagine how this limited my horizons. I discovered some of the big historical writers and read a lot of category, but it was all of my internet browsing later on that lreally broadened my horizons and got me reading more than just category and historicals. At first I was just happy to get an idea of which books had real treasure lying beneath the clinches and clashing bright colors, but then I started to get an idea of where to start with other subgenres.
I’m also really thankful to have found online romance communities. I really like the folks I work with at AAR, and I’ve gotten to “meet” so many other readers online at various sites and blogs who make discussing books a pleasure – and who feed my book habit big time. For fear of leaving someone out (not to mention making a really long list), I’m not naming names, but there are some interesting and good-hearted readers out there. I wish there weren’t quite so many online kerfuffles, but I do like feeling a little less isolated in my love of romances and reading. It’s nice to have a secret habit that isn’t quite so secret anymore.
Ebooks – I am happy for the rise of eBooks for two reasons. First of all, digital editions of books take up less space, and allow one to read in peace without having to put up with hecklers. I love the feel of print books in my hand, so I’ll never turn away from them all together, but there’s a finite amount of space in my house and it will hold only so many print books. I need to prioritize!
In addition to simply having eBook editions from print publishers, the publishers who deal primarily in eBooks give me reason for hope. Since the very early days, their offerings have improved vastly in quality and scope and there are a lot of things available at eBook publishers now that you just cannot find on the shelves. I’m a fan of unusual historicals and I like inventive stories in general, and I’ve been able to find books such as Song of Seduction or Exit Light that take chances and fall a bit outside the mainstream. It is my hope that the increasing variety at epublishers may spark a corresponding increase in variety at the print publishers as well. There are only so many nights at Almack’s one can stand to read about!
Reprints – I know this can spark some controversy as there are those who bemoan reprints taking up space on shelves that could be used for new releases. However, for those of us who were either too young to read some of the great romance classics the first time around or who simply missed them for whatever reason, reprints are a godsend. I love to browse the UBS, but going on a desperate hunt for an out of print book that leads one through several stores and online sites only to discover the book selling for many times more than its cover price is frustrating. For that reason, I am thrilled to see print reissues and the series reader in me loves that Harlequin is putting so much of its elusive backlist out in eBook form. Now if I could just pick up the rest of Carla Kelly’s Signet books and some of the harder to find Anne Stuart without breaking the bank….
And last but not least, I am seriously thankful for
My DIK box – I know many people talk about the DIK shelf, but my reading habits outgrew that a LONG time ago. Though it’s hard to find time, I love to reread and I enjoy diving in here and pulling out treasures. It’s not very well organized. Libertine’s Kiss sits on top only because it’s the most recent release, but it’s joined by the likes of For My Lady’s Heart, Morning Glory, Lost Warriors, Welcome to Temptation and a whole host of other goodies. Some of these books have accompanied me on many moves, and they have become so much a part of my reading life that I really wouldn’t want to do without them.
– Lynn Spencer