October 2011 | Nate Pedersen

Start Your Romance Collection

The Guardian reported this week that readers of romance novels are leading a mass exodus away from printed copies to eBooks. The simple reason: romance covers attract judgement. eBooks provide romance readers a welcome anonymity from peering eyes on bus rides and at subway stops.

And who can blame them? Romance covers (and titles) are not known for their subtlety. Nor are they accredited much merit by non-readers. So I guess this trend toward eBooks will eventually take over the genre. Most romance, like the pulp fiction of yore, is produced to be consumed quickly then discarded. It's a perfect opening for eBook publishing. Mills and Boon, the leading romance publisher in Britain, already produces over 100 eBooks a month.

All this means that a long-neglected opening in the book collecting field just got a bit more imperative. So start your romance collection today: the books are dirt cheap, still easy to find, and ephemeral in nature. Many of them end up in the recycling bins behind secondhand bookstores. Who knows what value future scholars might put on a full run of, say, the Harlequin Temptations series? (Romance readership has already attracted serious scholarly inquiry - see the work of Pam Regis and Janice Radway in particular).

It's also an area ripe for a bibliography and a collecting manual. I can only find one guide to collecting romance novels listed online.

So, is anyone out there a romance collector? If so, please tell us about your collection in the comments field.