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HistoricalRomanceRocks

To find out more follow #histrom or visit http://historicalromancenetwork.com/

If you have found your way here, you probably already love Historical Romance. However, the genre does have it’s naysayers. *gasp*

There’s always someone saying something along the line of, “The historical is dead. Dead, I tell you, dead!”

Certainly, the genre has cycled through several periods. [Classics! Sweet! Epic! Gothic! Fun! Dark! Suspenseful! Sexy!] A-hem. However, to slightly misquote Mr. Clemens, the reports of the demise of the historical have been greatly exaggerated.

In fact, you can now buy new-and-wonderful books in any period from Ancient Nomadic people, to Roman, to Viking, to European Medieval, to Georgian-Regency-Victorian England, to American Western, to American Colonial, to American Southern-set, to the Gilded Age and even to the early 20th century. And no matter what time period you choose, you will find a heart-rending love story both tied-to and yet transcending the concerns of that time.

How beautiful it is to immerse yourself in a world beyond your own–a world the author has taken pains to help you visit, heaping care and attention to sensory detail that will let you experience another time while also giving you a story that will prove the heart and soul to be perennial.

Sounds great, right?

What are some objections, then? Well, here are two I have heard:

“But they didn’t bathe back then.”

Le sigh.

First of all, not EVERYONE in history believed water was the source of every disease. And, even if full-tub-immersion was uncommon through most of history, can we not agree that our ancestors found each other attractive enough to get us here? Perhaps our modern noses would have had trouble in prior times, but if the character’s noses would not have been offended–and they would have been accustomed to the scents of their day unless they were somewhere unusual–why should our senses be ‘imaginarily’ offended enough to confine us to fictional stories set in the modern, overly floral scented world? It’s quite possible they would find our synthetic scents overwhelming.

Besides, take it from someone who has stayed for weeks on a farm where the water had to be hand-pumped: sponge baths are remarkably effective. And, do we worry if the protagonists of modern romances are showering daily when we read? No! We get lost in the story. As we should.

“I don’t want a history lesson.”

Historical Romance Authors aren’t professors. I take that back. Many Historical Romance Authors actually are professors, but, when writing, they are storytellers first. Authors use time periods to enhance the story, not to teach a lesson or to detract from the reading experience. I promise you will quickly understand what’s going on in a historical, even if the world or expressions used are unfamiliar. Why? Context. And beta readers. Sure there are words and references that certain devotees of a time-period will know without referencing the context, but I pinky swear you will enjoy a dance between two potential, nervous young lovers even if you’ve never heard of Almacks and have no idea how the cravat thing the author said was tied around the hero’s neck would have actually looked.

So, there are my arguments for historical romance. Or, actually, my arguments against the arguments against historical romance.

If you love Historical Romance, check out the #histrom tag on twitter to discover new books, new time periods and new books from authors-new-to-you, or go visit the web and/or Facebook page of The Historical Romance Network.   I have pinned some of my favorite historical romances on this Pinterest board (by NO means exhaustive…I’m working on it).

And, if you want to post or tweet the meme above, please feel free. Share the love!

My husband bought me a Nook from Barnes and Noble way back in November. Before I took the e-reader plunge, I had been concerned primarily with how the purchase of an e-reader would affect print distribution. Ah, how quaint November seems now.

On the positive end, I read more often. I love having so many titles at my fingertips. I love powering up and picking up where I left off on any book in my library at any time. On the negative end, I miss giving friends titles I enjoyed and introducing them to new authors.  I missed it so much that, when I’m fairly certain a book is going to be a great read, I buy the hard copy just so I can give it away.  If it’s a true keeper, I buy both.

But the inability to share is not the primary reason my love affair with the Nook is cooling. What is the primary reason? I’m frustrated because I cannot sink into my couch and simply browse like I could in the Barnes and Noble Romance section. In the bookstore, I would make my way to the romance section and quickly scan the books. Name and Title font was often a quick way to reveal the sub-genre that intrigues me most: historical romance. After determining that I book was in the genre I like, I’d glance at the publisher’s logo. All publishers have a type of book they tend to promote, and over the years, I’d come to trust a few publishers to print books that meshed with my tastes. If it was a publisher I trusted, I’d remove the book for a physical check.

To buy or not to buy, that was the question. Some combination of author familiarity, author quotes/recommendation, cover blurb and, finally, the excerpt usually found in the first few pages would spur me make my decision. It was a process I developed quite sub-consciously over years and years of being a devoted romance fan. It does not translate well to the Nook.

On the Nook, like in the bookstores, Barnes and Noble dumps all romance together–there is no sub-category for paranormal, historical or contemporary. Unlike in the bookstores, it’s impossible to quickly scan the 8,000 or so romance titles for the genre you love.  I have tried searching by genre, but that will result in list of titles I read years ago, some back in the aught-year dark ages when print reigned supreme. There is no option to sort the search by release date or popularity or publisher. In fact, there’s no way to search by publisher at all.

I hadn’t wanted to drift away from my particular habit of buying based primarily on publisher branding, because it’s worked well for me in the past. *sigh* I do marvel that publishers have not put pressure on e-tailers to have a search-by-publisher option. Change is the only constant, and so I’ll simply have to adjust. I will have to re-think my whole purchase process, or hope the power-welders over at Barnes and Noble software development make some adjustments. So far, I’ve simply stopped browsing and instead rely on recommendations on twitter and reviews on goodreads. I miss the thrill of the find, however.

As a writer, I’m thrilled self-publishing has become a viable option. As a reader, I’m growing more and more hesitant to click buy if I don’t know the author and/or publisher. I don’t know how to reconcile those two opposing points of view.

April 12th’s Publisher’s Lunch Deluxe reported on the energy/anxiety at the London Book Fair concerning the Print/Digital sea-change.

Li Pengyi from the China Education Publishing and Media Group provided a fascinating perspective. In the article, he was quoted as saying, “Google can be compared to a library, while publishers can be compared to experienced librarians.” That quote alone is fodder enough for a whole series of blog posts (any writer aware of the market has been thinking about Print/Digital issues, especially as they pertain to distribution), but, moving along…

He went on to say that “written materials have faithfully preserved the cultures of many nations,” and then speak of his concern regarding with the long term preservation of digital text.

Hummm.

I don’t think I’ve considered digital in terms of long term preservation. While I’m sure Mr. Pengyi was speaking in terms of centuries, his comment inspired thoughts on ‘long term’ as it pertains to my reading list. Those of you who have an e-reader–do you think about this problem?

Background: I have always managed my digital music library with an eye toward long-term preservation. I don’t buy from itunes for that reason. I download, but I download from Rhapsody and burn to a CD or external hard drive before transferring the mp3 to my ipod. Why? Because I want to maintain physical access to my music & don’t want my access determined by the Apple Corporation.

Yet, since purchasing my Nook, I have ignored the questions surrounding preservation of my digital book library.

When deciding between the Nook, The Kindle & a Sony e-reader, I did take into consideration both the Nook’s support of a non proprietary format (.epub) and its option to add external memory, so I suppose preservation and control were somewhere in my consciousness. On the other hand, since purchasing, I’ve been happy enough to allow Barnes and Noble to host my library.

Apparently, I’ve gotten lazy & accustomed to 3rd party storage since buying by 2nd gen Ipod. How dispiriting.

Perhaps purchasing books from a 3rd party vendor like All Romance would address this concern? Then again, I kind of like the idea buying from a Barnes and Nobel because they also have brick-and-mortar stores & have shown a long-term commitment to book distribution.

Choices, choices. (over-thinking, over-thinking?)

Anyone want to share their thoughts?