Well, it’s not breaking news, but it looks like Borders will be pulling out of the UK. When I first heard this, I wasn’t as upset as I would have been five years back, because I’m now a convert to the joys of Amazon (despite their habit of emailing me ever so often to tell me that my books are delayed – why can’t they get hold of Vicki Pettersson’s The Scent of Shadows, dammit?).
Don’t get me wrong, I think Borders is great for instant gratification and their books are priced reasonably, but they do only stock the more mainstream romance books – by that, I mean the ones by Nora Roberts, Lisa Kleypas, Jo Beverley, Jayne Ann Krentz, etc. So if I wanted to get, say, Elizabeth Vaughan’s Warlord, I would either have to make a trip to my Covent Garden bookstores (get the books now and pay over the odds) or order off Amazon (less pricey but I’d have to wait to get them).
Oh, by the way, Ms Vaughan’s trilogy has just been picked up by a UK publisher – I saw Warprize on the shelves recently, but in hardcover. This for a paperback that has been out in the States for at least a year? Madness. But the same is being done for Naomi Novik’s Temeraire books – the third one (Black Powder War) has just been published in hardcover here, even though all three have been out in mass market paperback for ages in the States! This is what they call Rip-Off Britain, I believe. I will admit Ms Novik’s UK hardback covers are really nice (UK cover on left and US cover on right for Throne of Jade), though I prefer Ms Vaughan’s US covers.
Getting back on-topic, what I do like about Borders is that it actually has a proper Romance section, compared to other UK bookstores that either shelve what romance books they have under General Fiction, or have a token Romance section with some Mills & Boons (the UK Harlequin line), chick-lit (Cecelia Ahern, Marian Keyes) and women’s fiction (ummm… think family sagas by Maeve Binchy).
UK bookstores may be learning though – the Waterstones on Oxford Street appears to have woken up to the fact that there are romance readers out there and actually has a decent Romance section. It’s not huge, mind, but it’s a pretty good selection of books. However, it seems as though having these sections is at the discretion of the store manager – for instance, the two Waterstones I’ve been to in the City (Leadenhall Market and Ludgate Hill) don’t have Romance sections at all. I guess they don’t think City workers read romance…
Having said that, they were giving away JD Robb’s Born in Death with the Evening Standard (London’s evening newspaper, mainly read by commuters) the other day – maybe Eve/Roarke is considered to be mainstream suspense? Maybe it’s Piatkus’ sneaky strategy to introduce Nora Roberts to this market?
Speaking of Piatkus, I’ve realised that they’re actually rather good at getting the more popular romance authors into the UK market – apart from Nora Roberts/JD Robb, they also publish Stephanie Laurens, Sherilyn Kenyon, Mary Janice Davidson, etc, and I’m sure there are more authors that I can’t remember now. The publisher also has a blog, with occasional giveaways, though it’s not updated very frequently (heh, pot meet kettle?).
Okay, ramble over. I will miss Borders, but I’m not going to go into mourning just yet. I’m guessing that their stores will be sold to some other large UK chain of bookstores – I shall wait and see!
ETA: Corrected my reference to Ms Novik’s books – Throne of Jade is the second Temeraire book, not the third. The third book is Black Powder War.