We tend to brace ourselves when we enter some stores, waiting for condescending
statements in answer to our asking for help finding books -- classic responses like, "Well, I certainly don't read those things, but you can find the romance section back by the restrooms."
And during the trek to the back of the bookstore bus to make purchases with our hard-earned entertainment dollars, we find ourselves a) not thrilled about paying money to be patronized, b) wondering whether more bookstores might want to educate their staff about customer service as well as how many books the average romance reader buys per visit, and c) itching to go back and recite to that smarmy store employee our entire damn educational resume, along with a list of all the really big words we know how to spell and use in complete sentences.
Certainly most of our conflict simply is about how comfortable we are with our romance reading in a society that feels free to openly demean our genre of choice in ways ranging from subtle to obvious. But store owners should understand, too, that when we find a location where the staff treats us w/ respect, we remain unfailingly loyal.
Lee Duncan says the staff of the West Melbourne, FL Barnes& Noble store is "amazingly supportive and very pro-romance!" Duncan (in photo) used their new free in-store wi-fi to comment @ H2H 08.01- and sent this photo taken w/her computer. In addition to having a Harlequin debut due in June '10 ("Romancing the Storm,"by Leigh Duncan), Duncan also runs the store's BN Romance Readers' Circle in-store book club.
September 29, Duncan, her Readers' Circle and I will host a dual all-day event with romantic suspense bestseller Roxanne St. Claire featuring her August read, "Hunt Her Down ." You can spend the day w/ "Rocki" at H2H in a special guest blog. That night, join Duncan's Readers' Circle from H2H. They'll use the BN wi-fi to link us in to Rocki's live appearance in the store for their Readers' Circle. You can ask questions, interact w/ Readers' Circle members as they have fun talking "Hunt Her Down," and maybe even get'chya some sneak peek at St. Claire's latest Bullet Catcher back2backs, "Hunt Her Down " and "Make Her Pay ."
The thing that makes this event more than just a social-networking party is that romance readers are capable of connecting online "heart to heart," if you will. So being included amongst a flesh-and-blood gathering of readers means acceptance among folks who'd greet you w/ open arms were you to show up in person. And rather than thinking solely in terms of impersonal cyberchat and 140-character bites of digi-dish, we imaginative readers can transport ourselves "up close and personal" into the kind of welcoming bookstore atmosphere we love -- and would like to see more of in the brick-and-mortar world.
I hope you'll join us Sept 29 when we get H2H w/ Roxanne St. Claire and Lee Duncan's W. Melbourne, FL BN Readers' Circle!
What do you think book store employees - and bookstore owners - should know about romance readers that will help the stores earn your loyalty? What other romance authors would you like to have visit H2H? What are your fave Rocki St. Claire reads?
Suz Brockmann's at Center Stage today through Aug 7! Today Suz says she's checking in around lunch time and dinner time EDT.
Mark your calendar for a cool in-store genre fiction event -- featuring romance fave Anna DeStefano -- at the Lincoln Center BN, Aug 25. "Tales of Adventure and Romance" begins 7.30 pm.