Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Amazon Says It Was Merely a Glitch

It was merely a "glitch" that de-ranked all those GLBT and erotica titles on Amazon.  This according to Patty Smith, Amazon's Director of Corporate communications:

There was a glitch in our systems and it’s being fixed

And I have a bridge for sale. . .

A Few Words About Romance, GLBT and Genre Fiction

All of this got me thing about romance and erotica and other genre fiction.  There is actually a historical perspective.

An article in the The New York Times last week entitled Recession Fuels Readers’ Escapist Urges started me thinking about genre fiction in general.  According to the article sales of romance so far this year are up 2.4%.

Add to that this factiod: 16% of all books sold in the first three months of 2009 were from the Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series!  A vampire romance!

We live in an increasingly complex and confusing world.  This latest economic downturn has shown us how illusive real answers can be.  So with all this confusion it is no wonder that people are escaping into genre fiction.  There is great appeal in happy endings, neat explanations and an alterative world.  Still, I can't help but think that there is something very wrong in our society when the most popular escape literature is about vampires. But I digress. . .

The point is that even if it is popular genre fiction gets no respect. Never has.  Probably never will.

During the great depression of the 1930's it was called pulp fiction.  Maybe because most of the books were printed on cheap paper. Maybe as a pejorative designation.  No matter.  However you think about it the fact is that the publishing industry looked down there noses because these books were sold in "non-traditional" outlets like bus stations and liquor stores. 

The writing wasn't necessarily eloquent. The vocabulary pedestrian and small,  The plots were formulaic. They were popular with the unwashed masses and they were cheap. All this made it easy to put them down as "not literature."

Because it was considered inferior, pulp fiction was under the radar of the Hays Commission; the enforcers of morality. An alternative publishing space opened up.  Many writers got there start churning out pot boilers for mass consumption.  Erotica, particularly gay and lesbian fiction, gained a venue.  And as the country moved into the 1950s Lesbian stories became increasingly popular. Over the years it has become almost mainstream.

So maybe, just maybe, I am paranoid.  Perhaps the whole dust up with Amazon is about disrespecting genre fiction and not about GLBT and erotica titles at all.

And I still have that bridge. . . .

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