The Power of Amazon (with a bit on Paranormal Romance)

So there’s this massive debate going on at Dear Author re mislabelling of books, especially the use of the word “romance” for books that don’t have HEAs.  Jane mentioned Paula Guran’s upcoming Paranormal Romance anthology (from the Juno imprint), and Ms Guran chipped in with her views on the subject.  And then everyone else joined in.

My take on this:  Firstly, I read both romance and SF / fantasy.  Heck, I can’t even remember which of them I started reading first.  So to me, this cross-over between romance and SF / fantasy should be perfect – a combination of my two favourite genres.  Or so it would seem…

I’ve got plans for a more detailed post on this cross-over soon, but here’s my two pence’ worth on this subject.  I like happy endings.  I like to believe that the characters live happily ever after once I read the final page.  It’s a personal thing.  

I accept that that’s not necessarily going to be the case in non-romance genres.  But to me, having the label “Romance” means that a HEA is implicit.  It’s part of the romance guarantee!  Calling it a romance and then killing off the main couple – well, it’s like calling a book an SF Romance, when actually, it’s really fantasy without any sci-fi elements.  The romance reader may not mind, but the SF reader certainly would.

Anyway, that’s not the point of this post.  Really.

In a follow-up post on her blog, Ms Guran linked to this article (Fall 2006) by Cynthia Ward on “The Internet Review of Science Fiction” website (you’ve to register to read, but it appears to be free for the time being). 

Ms Ward details the roots of Paranormal Romance, both from an SF / Fantasy and non-SF / Fantasy perspective (and there’s a lot of interesting points – apart from citing specific examples, she touches on HEAs and bookstore shelving, among other things).

Interesting trivia fact:  apparently, the first Paranormal Romance was “Sweet Starfire” by Jayne Anne Krentz  (1986).  I  have that book *grin*.  I may have to check to see if I can find any examples that were published before this.

The section I found interesting, and which I don’t think has been brought up before, is a theory about how this genre-crossing between SF / fantasy and Romance kicked off.  From her article:

I suspect that online bookstores are a major contributor to the booming sales of this multi-genre subgenre. On Amazon.com, readers looking for more books like Anne McCaffrey’s romantic SF novels will be steered, by computer suggestion or reader recommendation, to works by J.D. Robb (suspense) or Susan Grant (romance) or Catherine Asaro (SF); and readers looking for more books like Laurell K. Hamilton’s will be steered to Kim Harrison (SF) or Karen Taylor (horror) or Emma Bull (fantasy).

Certainly, the easiest way to find novels that can be shelved in several categories is online.

Very interesting.  And also, very true in my case.  There are numerous authors who I first found via Amazon recommendations.  Especially when I needed just one more book to get free shipping.  I’m pretty sure that I was directed to the first Anita Blake book by an Amazon recommendation (in retrospect, that may or may not be a good thing!).  But yes, lots of the authors I now love, e.g. Anne Bishop, Sharon Shinn, to name but two, I didn’t just pick their books off the shelf in the bookstore.  I came across their names online, checked excerpts and reviews, and then bought the books – and continued buying them, regardless of where they were shelved.

By the way, Ms Ward also includes a very comprehensive Reading List (at first glance) of books that she classifies as Paranormal Romance – a lot of my faves are on there, so I’m going to study it in a bit more detail shortly!

PS:  I’m not buying Cameron Dean’s trilogy, but I will pick up Ms Guran’s Paranormal Romance anthology.

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3 thoughts on “The Power of Amazon (with a bit on Paranormal Romance)

  1. Pingback: Who Invented Paranormal Romance? « Racy Romance Reviews

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