In one of my first posts I wrote about the YA stigma, but after working in a bookstore for the past two years I’ve realized that YA isn’t the only category with a harmful stigma attached. For example, I recently had a customer tell me she wanted something light to read in between school assignments. I said, “How light? Girly and frivolous or just something with a happy ending?”
“Completely frivolous,” she said. “I need something I don’t have to decipher.”
Having delved into the romance genre in the past couple of months, I started toward that section with a few books in mind that I personally enjoyed reading. But as soon as I handed her one, she looked at me as though I’d taken her into erotica and handed her a book on fetishes.
“Romance? Can’t you recommend something in lit?”
I could, but why? I had five or six books that would have been perfect for what she was looking for and she wouldn’t look at a single one simply because of their shelf location. WTH?
Now, I have to admit to holding a few genre prejudices myself, especially concerning romances, but I would like to think I’ve started to get over that. Still, it’s interesting to see how many challenges an author faces that really has nothing to do with their actual work. Just where their book sits in a store could cut them off from a huge portion of their potential audience because of prejudices like these. So I’d like to propose a vow.
Place your hand on your favorite book (you know, that one you found by accident and devoured in a day?) and say:
I hereby promise not to judge a book simply by its classification. I will give all books at least one page, one chance, to grab my attention before relegating them to the ranks of the unread.
Authors everywhere thank you for your attention.