Everybody who loves the book biz digs Publisher's Weekly, a kind of "industry Bible." But did you know there's been lotsa buzz online and elsewhere recently over the fact that PW's Top Ten Books of 2009 list included only tomes written by guys?
After perusing the list - and the editors' comments about their concern over the male-dommed Top 10 -- I'm more disappointed to note only two romance picks among the years' five best Mass Market selections: a debut by Margaret Carroll, the plot of which PW helpfully informs us Carroll saved from "what could be a stock story of an abusive marriage," and Anna Campbell's "Captive of Sin."
You might assume romance fiction and PW kind of go hand in hand. According to Romance Writers of America, in 2008 - when the romance genre raked in a tidy $1.37 billion and earned largest chunk of the fiction-sales pie -- romance fiction was the top-performing category on Publishers Weekly's bestseller list.
So perhaps you can imagine why I feel a tetch disgruntled that romance fiction doesn't have its own gravitas-adding category at PW as do other areas of genre-fiction like SciFi/Fantasy/Horror, Mystery and Comics. Instead, romance is tossed into a sort of black-hole, catch-all category "Mass Market," a delineation that seems somehow as if it were the only choice editors could scare up marginally classier than, I dunno...Pulp Fiction?
But seein' as how's I'm often misguided by blind adoration for the genre, I thought it'd be a good idea to find out the real reason the book-lovin' folks at PW don't have a Romance Fiction category. So I contacted PW Associate Publisher Cevin Bryerman who kindly put me in touch with PW Reviews Director, Louisa Ermelino. While she didn't clarify why there's no PW Romance Fiction category, she did tell me why romance fiction books are reviewed in Mass Market.
Ermelino explained that when PW chooses to review a romance released in mass-market format - what's commonly known as a "paperback" - the book's written about in the Mass Market section, along with several other types of mass-market released genre fiction.
However, when PW chooses to review a romance released in hardcover or "trade" - larger paperback novels you may recognize from the Brava or HEAT lines, for example - those novels would be featured in the Fiction category. Unfortunately, no romances landed on PWs best Fiction books of 2009 category, in case you were wondering.
But Ermolino did say something encouraging. When asked what it would take to get PW to create a Romance Fiction category, Ermolino said PW's constantly examining new ideas.
Well, Pollyanna here's gonna' take that as a "We think that's a great idea, and are going to look into it right away!"
But, then again, I believe in happily ever afters, too.
Why do you think PW doesn't have a Romance Fiction category? How would PW and the romance genre benefit from such a category? As an author or reader, how important do you find PW reviews of books?