Thursday, November 06, 2008

Browsing the Bookstore

The other day, I was in my local big bookstore, looking for something to read. It was actually a crochet book, but as I walked past the (rather extensive, thanks to my good friend Linda Keller) romance section, I thought about the ongoing discussion about where "ethnic" romance belongs in the store.

Most of it centers around African-American romance being shelved in the African-American lit section, and whether or not that's a good idea. Let me be up front and state that I don't know the answer to that. I can see points on both sides, and since my romances lean more towards interspecies than interracial (although I find that term inaccurate since I tend to think of people as the human race rather than the white race or the black race--I dunno why, it just feels more respectful to me to not think of peoples' skin colors defining their race).

Now, I'm the first one to express frustration at brick and mortar stores because I've gotten so used to having some sort of "search" function that part of me finds it irritating that Google doesn't exist for meatspace via the existence of Star Trek-type transporters that simply beam you directly to the books you're looking for. Instead, I have to drift through titles sorted alpha by author, which makes me kick myself for not writing down authors that pique my interest, and hope that something will trigger a half-memory. I'm the first to wish the romance section were organized by time period, so if I'm looking for ancient historicals, I look all the way to the left, and if I'm looking for Vikings, they're somewhere in the middle. Or that paranormals are called out in their own vertical section, complete with subsections: "Here be vampires, over there be were-critters, look down for ghosts and under the shelf for hunky boogy-men."

I'm also the first to sigh in frustration when an epublisher doesn't have these miniscule call-outs or drill-downs - "paranormal futuristic threesomes with light bdsm elements set in rural farming towns" and so-on.

And then my mood changes along with my mind. I know that the trappings are nothing without the good story underneath it, and that if your love story is between a cluster of pod-spores expressing kinky mushroom love, if it taps into the human experience somehow, then it won't matter whether those pod-spores are phosphorescent or use the awesome power of the pan-flute to communicate. I'll close the book or close the file and sigh happily.

But only if I can find it first.

2 comments:

Skylar Masey said...

Don't you hate that! It drives me crazy when you have to click around like you're on a treasure hunt for an elusive title. Or it makes you want to give up when you have to flip through every page of books on the website.

And our brick and mortar used bookstore is 30 minutes away so we don't got often. But the romance and sci-fi sections are always mixed up.

But atleast if we have determination we can find a new title. And sometimes I'm pleaantly surprised because I find something awesome I wasn't looking for.

Savanna Kougar said...

With so many subgenres, cross-genres, etc, I'm not sure how bookstores should organize???
It would be a lot easier if they did, though.