Sunday, December 11, 2011

Books and Books and Books


So I'm sitting in my jammies, drinking coffee at noon, and reading Ray Garton's book Ravenous. That's my idea of a perfect Sunday. We'll be putting up the Christmas tree soon, and afterward I'll probably jump on the treadmill for about an hour.

Yesterday, I listened to Lorraine Heath speak at the Nola Stars Christmas event at the Bossier Parish History Center. Her speech covered her personal journey as an author, and I admit I cried a little hearing her story. What a wonderful mark she has made on the writing world. I'm so glad I was able to attend.

After the guest speaker, we nibbled on sweets and chicken salad, and chatted with attending friends and writers. A few minutes before one o'clock we went down the street to the Books A Million on Airline Drive where several Nola ladies and Ms. Heath held a book signing.

I drove Beth to the book signing, and while there, I browsed the store. I noticed some interesting stuff while looking around this time. Starting with the romance section, I noticed the romance shelves are still paranormal heavy, but they've "soft focused" the covers. I assume this is to give the books a more romantic appearance. Lots of solitary hero covers, the man looking forlornly toward the reader as if to say "where is my soul mate"? There are definitely less of the ass-kicking heroine covers than there were a year ago.

Also, there were fewer Urban Fantasies shuffled into the romance section. It appears they have been moved to the actual Sci-Fi Fantasy section of the store, and blended in among those books, which seemed to mostly be comprised of DAW, ROC, Ace and Baen - in that order. When paranormal was hot, hot, hot, you'd find anything vampire or werewolf shuffled into the romance section, even YA. I wonder if this means they're trying to re-brand these books into a truer fit, since the paranormal romance genre has cooled off a bit.

Let's see...I noticed more historical romances on the shelves. That was different. The majority appeared to be regencies. And I noticed a lot of long legged heroines showing some thigh. Is this the new style clinch cover? The contemporary category shelf space has been shrinking for a few years now, but in this particular store it seemed very picked over. I take that as a good sign. Someone out there is buying those books!

I stopped by my favorite section - the trade paperbacks - and was thrilled to find a few friend's books on the shelf. I'm so evil. Like a wicked bookstore Robin Hood, I turned all my friend's books face out so people could see the covers. ;o) Most of the spines were Aphrodisia. They made up a large majority of the books in that section. Also on the trade shelves...they had a few branded as Kensington? (Isn't that Aphrodisia, though?), Berkley Heat/Sensations, a handful of Brava titles, three or four books from the Spice line at Harlequin, and a few books from Ellora's Cave and Samhain. I was surprised to find the Samhain trades in store, and read the back blurb on each book. This is the first time I've found Samhain books on the shelves in my area. Send more, please!

I spent a long time in the romance and fantasy/sci-fi sections, looking at common themes, cover comparisons, brand, and just generally looking at what made it to the store shelves. Once I'd done that, I shuffled over to the YA section to look around.

The YA section was so cluttered, it was hard to navigate. Honestly the bookstores need to arrange this section better. Many, many books were turned out so the covers faced the shoppers, but the covers are so similar, it's not effective. You step into the aisle and there is wall to wall book cover - and at first glance it's like looking at the same book over and over again. There are many dark themed covers with gritty overlays and vector swirls over brooding faces. The less common "bare torso" book like City of Bones stood out more, but it too was silvery blue with more of the swirling overlays. Lots of black, silver, purple, and dark blue book covers. I went down both sides of the aisle, and was surprised by the number of vampire and fallen angel books. I saw a lot of teens with super powers books, too. The powers could be anything. I saw books ranging from being able to move around when time is stopped, to psychic abilities, to teens special for some reason indeterminable by the blurb or the book cover. (The latter seems like a very piss poor marketing decision, in my opinion.)

With all those YA books on the shelves, the teens in store were all hanging out at the Manga section. They were standing in the aisle reading the books. I noticed them when I moved over to the writing/reference section. I'm not sure what that means, but there it is.

After all that browsing around, I went over to the signing to hang out with the rest of the writerly folk. Lorraine Heath left shortly thereafter and I took her chair. <g> It was a good day. Exhausting, but inspiring. I left Bossier brimming with new ideas. I wish I had taken pictures, of both events and the bookstore shelves, but I left my phone in the car. Yeah, yeah, I know. Stupid move. You live, you learn. ;o) Next time (next week) I'll try to snap some pictures of the books on the shelves in Monroe to better illustrate what I'm talking about.

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