I don't know too many romance readers without at least one brick-and-mortar bookstore chain horror story. 

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.

Message Edited by Michelle_Buonfiglio on 08-14-2009 11:03 AM
by Moderator becke_davis on ‎08-03-2009 10:35 AM

Once when I was paying for a stack of books, the very nice lady who was ringing up my order glanced at one of the books as she was scanning it. "Oh, I don't think you're going to like this one, dear," she said. "I've heard it's got a lot of sex in it."


With a perfectly straight face, I said, "Oh, that's okay. I heard it was really good."


Yeah, what I heard was that it was really HOT, duh. Don't go to that store very often, and I never got my hotter reading there anymore!


I order a lot of books online but I do also shop at the Barnes and Noble stores in the Cincinnati area. There are several, but my favorite is managed by Linda Keller -- it's in West Chester, and it's the designated book store for Lori Foster's Readers and Writers Get Together. Linda has a great stock of not only romance books (and all the related sub-genres), but she also has romance and romance-writing related magazines that are hard to find anywhere else. If you're in Dayton or Cincinnati, check it out!

by KPainter on ‎08-03-2009 11:12 AM
I love all of Roxanne St. Claire's books and I can't wait to read this new one!
by Author LeeRhuday on ‎08-03-2009 11:29 AM
Oh, would you look at that -- it's me!  We have a fantastic group of readers down here in W. Melbourne, and I am sooo excited about the On-Line Romance Readers' Circle.  It'll be such fun to have romance lovers from across the country join us as we discuss Roxanne St. Claire's book, HUNT HER DOWN.  She is the perfect author for the first On-Line Romance Readers' Circle and this book is her best ever! 
by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎08-03-2009 11:31 AM

I hear you, KPainter!  Please join us for the event so you can let us benefit from your experience!  The first RSC book I read was 'Dangerous Curves,' which has a car-racing theme, but also a heroine conflicted about donating a kidney to her estranged father.  Roxanne did such a terrific job getting it right -- at least to this transplant recipient -- that I had to write about the book and make a connection. 


Knowing you, becke, I know "has a lot of sex in it" becomes a major selling point!  It's like when people say to me, "I love romance, but I don't like all the sex in it."  I know that's a really subjective statement and means different things to diff folks.  So I always ask folks to clarify.  Sometimes I think they're afraid to admit they like the sensuality -- or think people will think poorly of them for it.  But loving sex in romance hs started many a nice relationship w/fellow readers.  Funnily enough, we always end up moving on to other topics. But I make sure to move discussion back to the important "hot" topics. :smileyhappy:

by Author RoxanneStC on ‎08-03-2009 11:46 AM

I am so excited about the H2H book club, Michelle!  I know we're going to have a blast, especially because those folks at B&N in West Melbourne are the most enthusiastic and supportive bunch of booksellers around.  I love that store and am so happy to jump on that wi fi and talk to readers, friends, and fans LIVE on September 29.


Believe me, I never get tired of talking about Dan Gallagher, the blistering hot bodyguard hero in HUNT HER DOWN.  I had a blast writing him and, since he's been in every Bullet Catcher book in the series, I know lots of readers are waiting for his story.


Thank you so much for the support and air kisses to my buddy Lee (soon to be Leigh) Duncan who not only runs an amazing book club, but is going to hit it out of the park with her upcoming Harlequin.  I've read it and LOVED it.



by amyskf on ‎08-03-2009 11:49 AM

This is fantastic! What an opportunity -- I love Roxanne St. Claire -- but to also connect with people at a live event will be thrilling, brava, Michelle and Lee. And congrats, Lee, on your upcoming release.


Becke, that is so funny, sometimes I get that at the library when I'm telling someone about a good book, they'll say something about "all that sex," and since I have nothing like a poker face, I scrunch up my nose, and say, "you mean, you think it's a bad thing?"



by Moderator becke_davis on ‎08-03-2009 12:11 PM

Amy - I know, I know! 


I forgot to mention that I'm a fan of Roxanne's, too. I'm clearly in the right place! 

by jskeim on ‎08-03-2009 12:16 PM

Lee, I'm so excited that this has come about and to begin with Roxanne...perfect!! Yes, I love Roxanne's stories and I love the Barnes and Noble in West Melbourne. Great combination and fun to see that your forthcoming book is listed, too. Good luck with everything!

by Keoweegirl on ‎08-03-2009 12:22 PM

I've marked my calendar and will be here on 9/29!   I love all of Rocki's books and have been waiting for what seems like forever for Dan's story.  Counting down the days until HUNT HER DOWN hits the shelves on August 25th!


My niece (a huge romance fan) is moving back to Satellite Beach next week.  I'll be sure to let her know about the W. Melbourne Readers' Circle.  It sounds like a terrific group. 

by Keoweegirl on ‎08-03-2009 12:24 PM

I keep forgetting to change my name over here so people will know who I am.  The above post by (keoweegirl) is really pjpuppymom in disguise. ;-)



by Author LeeRhuday on ‎08-03-2009 01:06 PM

Hey, PJ!  I made the same mistake.  I think I've fixed my login now, but just in case it didn't work -- Lee Rhuday and Leigh Duncan are one and the same. 



by amyskf on ‎08-03-2009 01:44 PM

Squee! That's me being a fangirl, Roxanne. I'll be here September 29th, but I'll feel like I'm 'there,' which is seriously cool.


Hey PJ!


jskeim, that store sounds fab, what a great place for readers and writers.

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎08-03-2009 01:45 PM

Hi, Peej!   So glad you'll be here for the Readers' Circle gig. It's so cool when lots of folks who already 'know' an authors work join any of us just getting to know them.  It adds so much.  You know, Roxanne wrote my fave herofrom Bullet Catchers, Christian, a while back.  Oh, did I mention he's Italian?  Well, I do like the Italian heroes... 


And the usernames can be a little tricky, so thanks for sticking w/it.  If you're an author, I'm keeping a list of your usernames so that BN.com can 'magically' turn them into author accounts w/the pretty red font.

Hi, jskeim!  I so wish I lived near you all and this marvelous BN store.  It's so refreshing to find stores that go out of their ways to support romance readers.  I understand the W Melbourne BN was the official book supplier for the 09 Romantic times conference, a real  honor.

Great to see you , Rocki!  I was so jazzed when I ran into Lee at RWA national and she mentioned her BN Readers' Circle.  When she mentioned your book was coming up as their Sept selection, I was, like, let's start in September!  So many folks are dyin for Dan's story.  And I understand Sept 29 also is the drop date for "Make Her Pay,' which'll make the night extra cool.  Maybe you could give us a little sneak peek that night...

I'm looking forward to our Stp 29 after we've all had a chance to devour "Hunt Her Down!"

by Moderator dhaupt on ‎08-03-2009 02:16 PM

Well my favorite B&N at Mid-Rivers Mall in St. Charles MO (name drop drop) is always very tolerant of all their varied genre lovers and unfortunately I haven't had any ugliness handed down to me at a bookstore buying "trash" so maybe we Midwesterners are a tolerant bunch after all. 

Oh Roxanne great title and cover, I don't think you could disguise that a check out lane for anything but what it is, a great piece of literary fiction. ;-)

by OV_099 on ‎08-03-2009 02:44 PM

Actually, I've never had a bad experience.  Granted, one doesn't know or can control what a person might be thinking; so if they are thinking how can she read that crap, well, I sure couldn't tell you), but it's never been done out loud.   In the end, to get that loyalty, just be helpful, courteous, and get the books out on the shelves. :smileyhappy:  We all have our preferences on everything, so don't try to push it down my throat, or try to get me to stop getting what I want.  But all the other stuff, well, that's why we go to any store more than once, book or otherwise. :smileyhappy:



by JoMarie on ‎08-03-2009 04:14 PM

Woohoo, Lee!  Thanks for the great article, Michelle.  I have to say, as the one who started the Romance Readers Circle in W. Melbourne, the group is in good hands and situated in a fabulous store.  I lead the monthly Romance Readers Circle at my present B & N, in Harrisonburg, Virginia.  Several booksellers and managers read Romance voraciously here, so it's a very Romance-friendly atmosphere.  Rock on!  Psyched to see Roxanne's titles featured, too.  What a perfect fit!

by MalePerspectiveGuy on ‎08-03-2009 04:38 PM

I love this as an interactive experiment between the virtual and "bricks and mortar."  It should be fascinating.  Good luck with it.


How about we all meet in West Melbourne for some reading by the B&N pool come January or February.



by Author LeeRhuday on ‎08-03-2009 05:02 PM

JoMarie is the greatest, and I'm sooo lucky to have inherited the Romance Readers' Circle from her.  The staff at W. Melbourne ask about you all the time, JoMarie. 


Dave, sorry.  No pool at the store.  But there's one just down the street.  We could meet for the Romance Readers' Circle and then adjourn to the pool afterwards.  In January/February, it would be perfect!



by Wind-Sky on ‎08-03-2009 06:08 PM

I had no idea Roxanne St. Claire lived nearby!  What a superb novelist!!  I am so excited to learn about the Romance Reader's Circle that I will be there to join in the festivities on September 29th!!!!!!  The Barnes And Noble in West Melbourne has always been the absolute "BEST" place to find my favorite Romance NovelsThe atmosphere that is felt inside the store always lends an embrace that makes you want to stay and read your new Novel right there!!



by Author VanessaKelly on ‎08-03-2009 06:11 PM

Booksellers like Lee are worth their weight in gold!  I had a frustrating experience today at one of the large chains in our area.  I went to pick up the latest Eloisa James novel, which came out last week, and it still wasn't on the shelves.  That was the second store this week where that book wasn't available.  After making a very nice salesperson retrieve the books from the storeroom,  I asked if I could also sign the two copies of my book which were still on the shelf.  When the manager came over to deal with it - ok, but not friendly - he slapped a huge sticker on the cover art of the hero, saying, "let's cover this guy up."  I said, trust me, you don't want to do that.  I lost.  Another salesperson, again very nice, asked me what I thought of "those books."  Knowing I write them!


So, what I would like is for booksellers to really take a hand in educating their sales staff and managers about romance.  Let's talk about how romance is basically keeping the business afloat these days, and educate staff about the amazing breadth and depth of stories.

by Moderator becke_davis on ‎08-03-2009 06:22 PM

Oh, grrrrr, Vanessa -- that just steams me! It's nice when romance books sell out, but not so nice when stores just won't stock newer authors -- or even established authors -- in the quantities that readers want. Thank goodness for the internet!


Michelle -- I think you've really touched on something here! 

by Author LeeRhuday on ‎08-03-2009 06:29 PM

Okay, I'll share my uncomfy experience.  I was taking a writing class and one of the members mentioned how thrilled she was to see her book on the shelf at her local bookstore.  I wasn't near my favorite Barnes & Noble, so I dropped in on a competitor.  After going back and forth several times with a clerk who assured me they "didn't have that book" in their computer, I pointed to the screen and said, "There.  That one right there."   "Oh, honey," said the clerk.  "You don't want that book.  It's..."  and I swear, she spelled it, "e. r. o. t. i. c."  "Yes," said I.  "In fact, I do," and had her help me pull it from the shelf.


by Moderator becke_davis on ‎08-03-2009 07:33 PM
Oh, the more of these stories I read, the more head-banging I'm doing. I really hate people who try to decide what I can and can't read!
by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio ‎08-03-2009 08:28 PM - edited ‎08-03-2009 08:31 PM

I'm glad to hear about the stores you really like!

Oh, Vanessa, what a story!  The thing is, I'm not sure people mean to be jerky about it.  OK, some people do, but I think a lot of bookstore employees are really used to directing folks toward the books they may like -- sorta like librarians.  They just overstep, as Lois says, when they voice their preferences out loud. Whatever happened to 'the customer is always right?"  Thing is, businesses have so much customer service info and tried/true methods of dealing w/the public, ya'd think they'd pass it along to their employees, then check up on that customer svc. 

The other thing is that people love to divide things into levels.  And we all know that even among romance readers and authors, there're always folks who say, "If you read that author, you're more sophisticated," or "you're a better writer if you're published w/ this house, instead of that house."  We  "book folks" can be pretty snobbish, plus, today everybody's a critic, you know?  Why? Cause amazon says we are, thankyouverymuch.  So I think sometimes bookstore folks lose sight of the fact that if we want their opinion, we'll ask (and thank them for great customer service) , but if we don't, please just show us where the book is, order it for us, or scamper back to the stock to find it for us cause we can't wait another minute to buy it!. 


What's really cool is when your neighborhood bookstore chain treats you as if they're an "independent" bookseller.Romance readers really respond to "hand selling," and stores are missing out big on sales if they don't treat their romance reader well and, moreover, reach out to them as a special class, rather than second class.

Message Edited by Michelle_Buonfiglio on 08-03-2009 08:31 PM
by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎08-03-2009 08:49 PM

Lee!  I can just hear her spelling it the way we adults spell out things we don't want our kids to know.


Welcome, Wind-Sky!  I'm so glad you'll be in-store for the Readers' Circle!  You will love Roxanne cause she's very outgoing and fun to be around.  And the funny thing is, she makes the same kind of atmosphere when she's online guest blogging.  She really is the perfect choice for this.  If you can, I hope you'll bring your laptop to let us know what's doin!  And if not, jsut have a great time!  Wish I could be there! But I'll be here. :smileyhappy:


What a great idea, MPG!  It'd sure be a nice break from the winter round these parts!

Hi, JoMarie!  So great to hear 'bout your store and colleagues in Harrisonburg, VA.  Having folks on staff who dig -- or at least are interested in learning about a genre -- can make the buying experience so much better for us.  And your rep precedes you; Lee told me about your starting the Circle, then heading to VA to take up the reigns on that Readers' Circle.  Maybe you can take part on Sept 29 and interact w/ the old gang! Thanks so much for stopping by!


lol, Debbie.  I instantly get "great piece of, um, fiction" when I look at Roxanne's cover. Glad to hear you're happy w/your local bookstore!  If you're a laptop chick, next time you're there, send us a comment from the wifi.

Amy, we've all been squeeing over this, so feel free to continue...


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