The Distorting Lens of the Romancelandia Fishbowl

 

Have you been checking out all these year end posts in Romancelandia? The numbers are impressive. Some random examples from my own Google Reader:

Stacy read 148 books in 2008.

Marg read 182 books.

Katiebabs read 200 books,

Tracy read 280.

Sayuri read 290 books.

In December alone, Jill D. read 12 books and Nath read 18 (Nath is 207 for the year)

For 2009, Brie is already 2 books into her 2009 goal of 50 books.

Not everyone posted their list of books, but I think that’s modesty talking (unless, as in my own case, it’s sheer laziness).

How about Jane at Dear Author? I never noticed until I started blogging how many DA posts are actually by Jane herself. It’s beyond my time limitations, not to mention slightly stalkerish, to try to count her reviews, but I am betting she’s read, oh, a few romances in 2008, as have her compatriots at DA. Same goes for the folks at TGTBTU and AAR.

And do you really think Kristie “I-could-wrap-my-romance-spreadsheet-once-around-the-planet-and-still-have-pages-left-to-make-a-cool-dress-for-the-next-RWA” J hasn’t read us all under the table? You know she had to get through a long list of medium reads and bottom reads to come out with this great list of top 2008 reads.

By comparison, these high numbers can make the “under 100” crowd, of which I am a member, feel a bit sheepish.

Misscz of Babbbling Book Reviews “unfortunately” read only 48 books.

Wendy has read only 64 books, and self-flagellates accordingly.

I haven’t counted, but I am pretty sure they both out-read yours truly.

But you know what’s interesting to me? According to statistics on readership compiled for the Romance Writers of America, most of us in Romancelandia are in a very small — like 2% — minority, and the rest are literally “off the chart”:

Number of Romance Novels Read By Romance Readers in the Past Year

54% have read between 1 and 5 books
17% have read between 6 and 10 books
14% have read between 11 and 20 books
8% have read between 21 and 50 books
2% have read between 51 and 100 books

According to RWA, “64.6 million Americans read at least one romance novel in the past year”.  We know we make up less than 2%. How many of the other 98% do you think visit Romancelandia? And how does our minority status affect what we think is normal, or popular, or a trend, in romance?

For example, 8,000 romances are released a year, but only a fraction of that number get big play in Romancelandia — often the same books across all the blogs.

Is even the largest blog in Romancelandia (whatever one that is) read by even half of one percent of romance readers?

But perhaps there’s a ripple effect: sure we don’t represent the average reader, but maybe we have an influence beyond our numbers. We tell friends, who tell friends…etc.?  Except that I went online because I didn’t know anyone in RL who read romance … and I still don’t!

Or maybe it’s direct influence on authors the the industry? I have been amazed (and delighted) that authors have come to my little blog. I have a whopping 70 subscribers according to my Google reader, so romance authors must be especially attuned to consumers if they found my particular grain of blogging sand. Editors and publishers, too, if their traffic on the big romance blogs is any indication.

Still,I think it’s a good idea to keep in mind how unusual this crowd is, and to try to correct for the lack of objectivity that inevitably results. The ebook industry, for example, may be one of the fastest growing segments of the book publishing industry, but in 2008 it made up only 1% of book sales according to a story that was picked up by all my favorite “liberal” media outlets, like NPR, The New Yorker and the NYT, in the last week of the year. And do you know who is buying ebooks? People who read all the time, i.e., us. And the vast majority of readers —82% — prefer printed books, but you’d never guess that with all the salivating over Sony Readers and Kindles in Romancelandia (my own saliva adding to the pool, of course).

Or how about the Save the Contemporary campaign? According to the RWA, contemporary is extremely strong, accounting for half of romance sales. The bestselling subgenre of the bestselling genre needs “saving”? It makes sense to me only if I define “contemp” in a very specific way, to exclude much of what is counted by the RWA and readers as contemporary (and please fill me in if I missed the data).

I guess I am wondering, to what extent does Romancelandia, with its cutting edge embrace of things like ebooks, m/m romance, erotica, etc., represent these 64 million? Does it even need to, or can we be happy in our fishbowl? Can we even call someone who reads 1-5 books a year a “romance reader”, despite the fact that they make up 50% of romance sales? Should you (not me, I have no desire to do it) be doing more to appeal to those occasional romance readers, who are probably online anyway reading the Huff Post and ONTD, and how would that even be done?

I’m not even sure what I am asking, but I’m sure someone else has good ideas, so please feel free to answer anyway!

29 responses

  1. According to the RWA, contemporary is extremely strong, accounting for half of romance sales.

    I’d be interested in knowing how many of those are category.

    I think what needs saving is the single-title contemporary that is NOT some suspense/SEAL (possibly paranormal???) amalgam.

    Just finished Kristan Higgins’s Fools Rush In and the only other single-title contemporary author I can think of off the top of my head is Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Those are the kinds of books I think of when I see “contemporary romance” (single-title is assumed).

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  2. Jessica:
    I’m with you. It takes me a week or two to finish a book! ( bc I’m moving my lips as I read?) I can’t believe all these fast readers!

    You raise some really interesting questions, and I’m eager to see the answers.

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  3. I absolutely think that someone who only reads 1 or 2 a year is still a romance reader! We do definitely have a distorted view of the romance world, I think, here in romancelandia.

    For instance, my sister reads romance, and lots of it, but I don’t think that she read a single book on anybody’s “best of” list this year. Or last year. And by anybody, I mean bloggers. Nor has my mother, who tends only to read short categories. Which is fine – I do to, occasionally – but they definitely aren’t the books about which we are all beating our chests.

    Nobody I know knows half as much about ebooks as I do, and I work in publishing! Ebooks is an area that my company has been looking at for many years, but is still “getting the lay of the land.”

    Very interesting post, Jessica.

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  4. Jane and Jayne are amazing, because not only do they read TONS of books, but they write thoughtful reviews that appear basically every day on DA. I don’t know what the current AAR review stats are, but before Laurie left DA was doing about as many reviews a month as AAR with, what, half the reviewers? Less than half? I constantly feel like a slouch for my measly review output!

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  5. Hi Jessica,

    to be fair almost 40% of the books I read last year were categories or category length. I also read a fair few novellas.

    If we are talking wordcount, all in all, I din’t think I read anymore than 100 normal sized fiction books. Plus, I don’t watch TV much or have any kind of life really so I have plenty of time to read *g*

    In my experience fan communities absolutely have a distorted view of themselves by thier very nature. They focus on one ‘niche’ for the lack of a better word and it becomes a lot more important in thier psyche than in the general populace. I’ve seen fan communites turn really ‘feral’ and they defend thier object of fandom with an intensity I just can’t seem to muster. Which is why I am at best a half-hearted reviewer and blogger.

    I blog to reach out to other people who love to read. Love it enough to blog about it. We probably are a tiny minority but when you’re here, it feels like a lovely cuddly majority. Which is the seduction of any community.

    I suppose I am a ‘romance reader’ but I really don’t count myself as such, I’m a reader full stop. ANd it doesn’t really matter if you read 1 book all year or 1000, you’re still a reader. In fact, if I am being brutally honest, it’s probably a healthier perspective to only read a handful of books a year. I keep looking around me wondering where all the werewolves/vampires/demons are and why there are no ripped Highlanders here in Edinburgh? I’ve babbled enough. *g*

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  6. MoJo wrote:

    I think what needs saving is the single-title contemporary that is NOT some suspense/SEAL (possibly paranormal???) amalgam.

    Mojo — This is my point. Why don’t we consider the categories and the suspense “contemporary”? It takes a fangirl to make those distinctions, because the industry and the vast majority of romance readers do not.

    Robin wrote:

    Jane and Jayne are amazing, because not only do they read TONS of books, but they write thoughtful reviews that appear basically every day on DA.

    Robin — I agree, and I think the breadth and depth of knowledge
    about the genre that this gives them (and the others above) make for fantastic, insightful reviews. But I had an epiphany when I realized that even the biggest blogs in Romancelandia are essentially niche blogs.

    Sayuri wrote:

    In my experience fan communities absolutely have a distorted view of themselves by their very nature. They focus on one ‘niche’ for the lack of a better word and it becomes a lot more important in their psyche than in the general populace. I’ve seen fan communites turn really ‘feral’ and they defend their object of fandom with an intensity I just can’t seem to muster. Which is why I am at best a half-hearted reviewer and blogger.

    Sayuri, Thanks for sharing your perspective. I agree that one of the features of the distortion is infighting — sometimes we are fighting about very inconsequential things, and sometimes we forget that we have a lot more in common with each other than with the other 98% of romance readers.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with reading a lot (unless you’re doing it to the detriment of your RL responsibilities or to avoid dealing with some problem in your life, and even that would be okay occasionally, I would think). I actually aspire to read a lot more. But I think the amount we read, and the knowledge we have about the genre, make us very unique. And I just never realized that before (I’m notoriously slow on the uptake).

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  7. These statistics are the reason I’m able to “let go” and stop worrying about how my book is doing–I can make a small difference, but overall, any effort I put in, beyond writing the novel, is a drop in the bucket. (It helps that I have a friend who used to work for USA Network and then ESPN, dealing with tv ratings–very eye-opening!)

    I consider myself lucky that I actually got a few opinions on the book–the vast, vast majority of those who buy it will never post anything, or possibly even say anything, about what they thought of it. It’s like whispering into the Grand Canyon.

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  8. I used to average 1-4 books a week around 300-400 pages and they were mainly romance. Now with blogging, writing and trying to get published, as well as branching out with other genres, I have the feeling that my reading may go down. I don’t know if I should feel guilty because I rely on the library and all the books I receive from publishers, rather than go to a bookstore and buy. I used to go to my bookstore every week and buy 5-6 books a month. Now maybe one a month. I know for a fact that I rather read a book than watching tv or play video games.

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  9. I keep my measly 64 books read in 2008 in perspective. To other romance reading bloggers? Yeah, I’m probably the biggest slacker on the planet. To my non-romance reading friends and family? I have no life because I’ve always got my nose buried in a damn book.

    It’s all about perspective.

    I’ve always contended that the number of readers plugged in online is a mere drop in the bucket to those readers out there who “read in a vacuum.” Like Victoria already said, lots of readers go into a bookstore or library, pick up a book, read said book, and then never discuss that experience with anybody. Also, how many online bloggers do you know who complain about the proliferation of certain plot devices? Secret babies, amnesia, vampires, serial killers etc. Well, these books are still getting published. Why? They sell. Trust me, Harlequin would dump secret baby stories in a heartbeat if nobody was buying them. Somebody is, and I’m convinced it’s all the non-online readers.

    As for ebooks, I’m convinced the online romance reading community is on the cutting edge with that technology. I recently took my Sony Reader with me to the dentist, and he looked at like it had beamed down from Mars. Now my dentist is a smart man. He’s educated, he reads – but he had no clue about ebooks and ereaders. So there you go….

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  10. I’ve always contended that the number of readers plugged in online is a mere drop in the bucket to those readers out there who “read in a vacuum.”

    Absolutely. Very few people connect their daily non-electronic routine to the internet; it’s rare to google a book or a breakfast cereal. And even of those who *do* find these sites, hardly any actually contribute to the content online. Webmasters of large community sites know that the number of lurkers, while tiny relative to the total population, is still huge compared to the number of active members/commenters on the site.

    It’s an even more distorted fishbowl than the usual round glass shape because of the demographics of who’s online. F’rex, in most of the world very few bloggers are women–the US being the huge exception. Granted the US is a massive population and massive book market so you’d expect a lot of American voices, but even so, compared to other types of online communities, Romancelandia is disproportionately full of American women–and a wider range of ages than in many male-dominated online communities. (I can’t immediately find the citation for those online demographics right now, but it’s somewhere in my RSS reader. Will look again later.)

    I do think there’s something interesting happening with the growth of these (largely) women’s sites around the romance genre. I get the impression that quite a lot of Romancelandia is not in contact with other, older online communities. (Even calling romance a fandom surprises some.) Jessica, I believe you’ve noted in the past that compared to other fandoms, romance is unusually decentralized and blog-based rather than forum-based. I agree, and I think the romance community tends to reinvent the wheel a bit for lack of familiarity with the medium–in terms of both technology and community standards–though reexamination/reinvention isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I also suspect a lack of the most current tech savvy has kept some of the largest romance sites from being easily found online, which contributes to the lack of cohesion.

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  11. I skim a lot of books, maybe about a hundred every year. The ones I actually read, word for word, cover to cover? Probably less than twenty.

    So I read a lot and am also a slacker. It’s hard to do, but I manage.

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  12. This is a very interesting post. I’ve been online since I started reading romance and never really thought outside of the online romance community and how they buy books. It is a little surprising to see that majority of romance readers read between 1 and 5 books a year. The online romance reading community appears to be huge, but in reality it is, like you said, a mere drop in a very large bucket.

    When I take into consideration that last year I read 3 to 4 books a month, it’s almost shocking to now know that a much larger percentage of romance readers read what I read in one month over the course of one year! Not to mention that when I compare the “measly” 50 to 60 books I read last year to the top doggetts in romancelandia, who put out numbers in the 100’s, it’s darn near galling to find that the minority is reading to the nth power more than the majority. But at the same time it is understandable. I doubt that I would read as many romance books a year that I do if not for online reader influence and the trickle down effect where one blogger raves about a book or author, and another does, then another, until the online reader world is buzzing about certain books or authors and everyone just has to buy them. I’ve bought and read more than a few books because of it. This type of fandom does not easily reach those outside of the romance reader community, unless it is recommended by one of us to someone we know, but lets be honest, that rarely happens. Mainly because most of us went online because we couldn’t find readers like ourselves in our everyday lives.

    And I have rambled on until I’ve become incoherent even to myself. Maybe something of what I said made sense in relation to the topic. Great post, Jessica.

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  13. First off – I have a confession to make. I only read 90 books this year *gulp* not the numbers some of the others have. Mind you, I didn’t keep track of the DNF’s so that would raise the numbers quite a bit.
    I think Romancelandia is unique. I’ve been reading romance for 15 to 20 years now and for the longest time I felt I was an island. I didn’t have anyone to ‘talk books’ with. And while I’ve read some Wonderful books before I found the online community and started checking out books others were recommending, I also read a lot of stinkers.
    My book reading has gone down in the past few years as my blogging has gone up. But my life has become EVER so much richer since I found this interesting and fascinating community of romance readers. Part of me feels bad that there are so many romance readers still out there who are still where I was 7 or 8 years ago. I realize how frustrating it must be for them not to be able to ‘talk’ books with such an incredibly wonderful group of people.
    I’d love to be able to reach out to them and get them to join us – but alas, I’m not sure how to go about it.
    But I can say, I’ve been blogging since Feb, 2005 and while there were a few reader bloggers such as Wendy, Keishon, Rosario (and more I hope forgive for not thinking of who at the moment) I have seen such a growth in the number of reader bloggers in the last few years and that makes me so happy. So maybe they are discovering this ‘community’.

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  14. The numbers on my blog (as to reviews) is nowhere near how many books I actually read in 2008. I can read a 500 page book in 2 hours, so on average, when I’m reading, I’m reading three or four books in one sitting. I just don’t review all of them (for shame!).

    I think it’s all about perspective. I had a lot of things going on in my personal life last year that affected my blogging and reading habits more than it has in the past. 2009 is already shaping up to be a doozy for sheer…annoyance already. Here’s hoping my book reading experiences will get better this year. 😀

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  15. A couple of things:

    1. I can’t speak for any of the other TGTBTU girls, but I read a ridiculous amount of books this year, since I counted 175 books total. Of course, if you subtract the 20 or so I read for a class last summer, and the 7 or 8 DNF’s, you get a number closer to 150. I’m not sure I’ll keep those numbers up much past this year–most of my reading happens on my commute to the place where I go to school. But I definitely consider myself having achieved something cool.

    Secondly, the statements you made about most readers are telling. I can’t imagine not reading, but I have heard the wistful, “I wish I had time to read” complaint from more than a few people in real life, and I’m sure those people don’t think I have much of a life myself because I make that kind of time. And in the microcosm of my immediate family, I’m still considered a bit of an oddball, because I don’t read the authors my mom and sister rave about. It doesn’t matter that I do write for one of the larger romance blogs online. I didn’t like Twilight, and haven’t read Karen Marie Moning, therefore I am weird.
    Your statements about romance being unique as far as fandoms go are interesting, too, and it’s so true. Romance is definitely so unlike any other major fandom I’ve participated in, and I sometimes have trouble thinking of it as such. When I came to the realization that my association with TGTBTU made me, if not a BNF (big name fan), then at least something a bit more than small potatoes even if just by association, it floored me. I mean, I’m just this girl, you know? Even if the blog I write for is linked to everywhere. And yet, in RL, the last person I actually told about my review gig described it as my “cute little hobby”, which certainly put things into perspective and kept my head from getting too big.

    What was my point again? Um… I have forgotten. Except maybe that I thought the post was interesting and I agreed with some of your comments and I mostly wanted to brag about my reading total. 😀

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  17. Interesting post again Jessica!

    Yes, I do read a lot, but then again I have a lot of reading time! With a 3-4 hour commute in total each day, I can get through a normal paperback in a day.

    However, when I look at how many books someone has read, I don’t really see that someone who has less than 100 books is a slacker at all. I realise that the time that I have to read is unusual, and as soon as I don’t catch the train to work, my reading really suffers! For example so far this month I have only finished 1 book. What I should do is get a job where I can at least halve the commute time, and get a bit more balance into my life!

    I do think that the comments about blogging etc are very valid. We, as a blogging community, are a very small portion of readers out there, and we are in a way kind of insular. Like Kristie says though, that sense of community makes all the difference to me in terms of where I am in my life. As a single mum who works full time and therefore doesn’t have a lot of time to do outside stuff, the connections that I have made through blogging are a lifeline.

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  18. Victoria Janssen wrote:

    I consider myself lucky that I actually got a few opinions on the book–the vast … It’s like whispering into the Grand Canyon.

    That’s a great way to look at it — wish I had thought of the Grand Canyon metaphor.

    katiebabs wrote:

    I know for a fact that I rather read a book than watching tv or play video games.

    I hear ya sister!

    Wendy wrote:

    I’ve always contended that the number of readers plugged in online is a mere drop in the bucket to those readers out there who “read in a vacuum.” Like Victoria already said, lots of readers go into a bookstore or library, pick up a book, read said book, and then never discuss that experience with anybody.

    I find that the online discussions so enhance my reading experience. I feel kind of bad for folks who do this (but then, they probably think I am a total nerd and pity me.)

    Wendy wrote:

    As for ebooks, I’m convinced the online romance reading community is on the cutting edge with that technology.

    I agree. I think in SOME things the online romance community is ahead of the curve, and that a lot of folks will eventually catch up, and this is one of them.

    But in OTHER things, the online romance community functions as a fandom, and the majority of romance readers will never share our interests.

    RfP wrote:

    It’s an even more distorted fishbowl than the usual round glass shape because of the demographics of who’s online. … compared to other types of online communities, Romancelandia is disproportionately full of American women–and a wider range of ages than in many male-dominated online communities.

    This is a great point, one I hadn’t thought of, although if most romance readers are women of diverse ages (as the RWA stats show), then it’s not distorting via a vis the RL romance community.

    RfP wrote:

    I think the romance community tends to reinvent the wheel a bit for lack of familiarity with the medium–in terms of both technology and community standards–though reexamination/reinvention isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

    I would love to hear more of your thoughts on this point.

    Jill Sorenson wrote:

    I skim a lot of books, maybe about a hundred every year. The ones I actually read, word for word, cover to cover? Probably less than twenty.
    So I read a lot and am also a slacker. It’s hard to do, but I manage.

    Wait. You …WHAT???!!! Ok, I think it’s time to form a civilian online romance militia …

    Brie wrote:

    I doubt that I would read as many romance books a year that I do if not for online reader influence

    Yes, I think being online contributes in many ways to our uniqueness, and supporting our book reading and acquisition habits is one of them.

    KristieJ wrote:

    First off – I have a confession to make. I only read 90 books this year *gulp* not the numbers some of the others have.

    Well, knock me over with a feather! 😉

    my life has become EVER so much richer since I found this interesting and fascinating community of romance readers. Part of me feels bad that there are so many romance readers still out there who are still where I was 7 or 8 years ago. I realize how frustrating it must be for them not to be able to ‘talk’ books with such an incredibly wonderful group of people.

    I agree with you — and I agree that many of us are now catching up. So many of the bloggers in my blogroll are babies in internet years.

    Lady of the Review wrote:

    I can read a 500 page book in 2 hours,

    Wow. Ok, you are either (a) Harriet Klausner, or (b) bionic.
    😉

    Shannon C. wrote:

    Romance is definitely so unlike any other major fandom I’ve participated in, and I sometimes have trouble thinking of it as such.

    I felt hesitant using that word, “fandom”, and I would be really curious to know how Romancelandia is unlike other fandoms (I don’t participate in other book.tv.film type fandoms)

    When I came to the realization that my association with TGTBTU made me, if not a BNF (big name fan), then at least something a bit more than small potatoes even if just by association, it floored me. I mean, I’m just this girl, you know? Even if the blog I write for is linked to everywhere. And yet, in RL, the last person I actually told about my review gig described it as my “cute little hobby”, which certainly put things into perspective and kept my head from getting too big.

    This is a terrific personal anecdote that illustrates my point. Thank you for sharing it!

    I mostly wanted to brag about my reading total. 😀

    Please feel free! 🙂

    Marg wrote:

    Like Kristie says though, that sense of community makes all the difference to me in terms of where I am in my life. As a single mum who works full time and therefore doesn’t have a lot of time to do outside stuff, the connections that I have made through blogging are a lifeline.

    I think this is so true. I definitely feel as though I have made friends here, and 6 months ago I would have scoffed at that idea.

    One last point: I hope no one feels like I am somehow inviting people people to defend the number of books they have or have not read. I was merely comparing the number of books WE read to the number of books the average romance reader reads, to say that we may not represent the average romance reader.

    Thanks for the feedback!

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  19. I wasn’t defending, just stating that my life situation allows me a lot of reading time. If I did the sensible thing and got a job closer to home, then my reading totals would be a lot less.

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  20. Am I alone? I don’t even count how many books I read or indeed keep any sort of record. I give most of them away shortly after I’ve read them so unless I blog about them pretty quickly (or love them enough to keep them) I’ll never get round to it.

    I literally have no idea how many books I read last year though I’d guess 50 or so.

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  21. I am a slow reader and I don’t even try to keep up with Jane, Jayne and Jia’s reading and reviewing pace. They do a fantabulous job, but I can’t match them. I like to read to savor language, and when I try to read fast, I get the meaning of the words, but not the cadence, the flow, or the sound effects. For me, rushing through it takes away a lot of the pleasure, and I’ve tried to make my peace with that. I know I miss out on a lot of books, but slow reading has some benefits, too.

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  22. Marg wrote:

    If I did the sensible thing and got a job closer to home, then my reading totals would be a lot less.

    that’s not sensible … is it? Thanks for clarifying!

    Tumperkin wrote:

    Am I alone? I don’t even count how many books I read or indeed keep any sort of record.

    No, you are with me. When I read the sad news that Elizabeth Guest died, it jogged my memory that I had read a book of hers. Otherwise, it would have been lost to the void. This blog and Library Thing are helping.

    Janine wrote:

    I am a slow reader … I like to read to savor language, and when I try to read fast, I get the meaning of the words, but not the cadence, the flow, or the sound effects. For me, rushing through it takes away a lot of the pleasure, and I’ve tried to make my peace with that. I know I miss out on a lot of books, but slow reading has some benefits, too.

    I am an incredibly slow reader. for a different reason. I often stop and ponder things as I read. I am like this in RL, too. Very … distractible.

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  23. Jessica wrote:

    I think it is definitely true that fangirls can have a deep knowledge of their favored subjects that casual fans do not. And I think you have also just given me an explanation for why fangirls in romance become writers of romance (I had always wondered about this).

    But I also think we bloggers sometimes write as is we SPEAK for the romance community and it seems ot me this cannot be right, much of the time.

    Thanks for the linkage — so nice ot discover new blogs!

    It was great finding your blog too = ). I love this fish bowl blog post and the feel of your site, nice to know others ruminate over these kinds of issues also.

    I agree that we appear to speak for the masses, but don’t in truth. Instead the small select group we do speak for is more prolific when it comes to $/per person and therefore more powerful; especially in regards to the power players in Romancelandia like Smart Bitches and Dear Author. If 50% of readers only buy 1-5 a year, it’s no wonder the pub’s drool at the chance to shine in the presence of us fan girlys or dudes (in the fantasy and scfi sense) who buy 1 – 5 a week. I spend about $300 a month on books, which I eventually donate to my local Library ( not including the books I buy as presents),& spread word of mouth re: what I’m reading in viral proportions; I’m an authors wet dream and so modest too, snort . The way I see it, it’s us or nothing. Similar to closed mouths not being fed, the legion of casual readers not intent on getting their voice out there won’t be heard. Such is life.

    On the fans to writers phenomena, I’ve observed the same rings true in the Urban fantasy, mystery, and sci fi circles as well. I think more now than ever, since the net has up’d the intimacy level btwn the authors/ industry insiders and the fans.

    P.S. completely unrelated, but I know 6 men who read para romance/ para chick lit just as obsessively as I do. Poor dears, Urban Fantasy bit down hard and dragged them into our territory,lol. Not that they broadcast their manly reading preferences of course = ).

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  24. Jessica, I have been thinking about this question, and I do believe the wall between Romancelandia and the general “romance reading” population will thin dramatically in the coming year or two thanks to twitter and facebook. Because people socialize online so much more, and talk about fannish things, it creates fewer degrees of separation between fandom and the general populace. Which can only be a good thing. They need us to guide them! *g*

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  25. carolyn jean wrote:

    Jessica, I have been thinking about this question, and I do believe the wall between Romancelandia and the general “romance reading” population will thin dramatically in the coming year or two thanks to twitter and facebook.

    So many of my students use these. I hadn’t thought of this at all. I wonder how it will happen that the genral romance reaidng public will intersect with romance blogs via Twitter or Facebook. Do you think it will be Facebook groups?

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  26. Jessica asked:

    I felt hesitant using that word, “fandom”, and I would be really curious to know how Romancelandia is unlike other fandoms (I don’t participate in other book.tv.film type fandoms)

    Now that I think on it a bit more, I’m realizing that romancelandia adheres to a lot of the same rules for other fandoms I’ve seen. Granted, what fandoms I’ve been involved with over the years have been pretty much exclusively book-related. (I used to have strong opinions on Harry Potter, for example.) We do have our own terminology (TSTL comes to mind, even words like romancelandia), we have our major community sites, we even have our moments of “OMG we are so oppressed because the general public maligns our taste!” moments. The thing romancelandia doesn’t have that other fandoms I’ve seen has are shipping debates or, really, much in the way of fanfiction. But since a lot of fanfic revolves around relationships and relationships are the point in romances, this isn’t really a lack.

    I also agree with CJ’s comment re: social networking sites definitely bringing more people into the fold. I talk about books on my twitter all the time, and my twitter followers aren’t all romance readers either.

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  27. Shannon C. wrote:

    We do have our own terminology (TSTL comes to mind, even words like romancelandia), we have our major community sites, we even have our moments of “OMG we are so oppressed because the general public maligns our taste!” moments.

    I think I’ve got a definition of fandom. Thanks Shannon!

    Like

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