This morning we spent about 45 minutes at the Friends Of The Library book sale. We have more than enough books already, but it’s our civic responsibility to go to this thing and buy more. Twice a year. All about supporting the community, that’s the Philangelus family.
Kiddo2: Mom, are we Friends of the Library?
Me: You have to pay to join Friends of the Library, but someone isn’t really your friend if they demand you pay them to be your friend.
Me: And we’re just users anyhow. I mean, if the library had no books, would we still be friends with it?
So there we are, scoring a hardback copy of Harry Potter 7 (without a cover, but you don’t read the cover) and a haul of books for Kiddo3 who’s just realized books can tell him awful, tragic, heinous stuff about people dying (“MOM! Pompeii!!! And the Titanic! Are there any books about World War II?!?”) when I realized what was missing.
Usually at these things, you’ll find cartons upon cartons of Harlequin, Silhouette and other category romances, the kind that are about half an inch thick and you could read in an hour. Oftentimes those have their own section because people will buy them in batches, read them in batches, and donate them in batches. In the past I found them by subscription, even: you could sign up and get two or four a month. No one needs to keep that many category romances, so off they’d go to the donation bin.
Except not this time.
Now why would that be? I’m pretty sure the romance market is doing well, but it occurs to me that the rise of ebooks may be gutting the resellable paperback market. Every time you find a news article about readers, reporters see fit to mention that women like them because “other people can’t see the covers” if they’re reading romance (of any heat level) but I wonder if there isn’t also a censurability factor. It’s not a secret that if you buy a hundred books a year, you’re more likely to see the value of an ereader than if you buy six. And I know I’ve seen articles to the effect that romance titles sell especially well as ebooks.
So I wonder if that’s where all the category romances went: to digital. And if so, what’s going to happen over the long term to my Friends at the Library.