The Wonderful World of Romance Publishing–Sourcebooks Vs. Amazon

Twitter followers will know that I occasionally tweet about relevant publishing related news I think is particularly interesting to readers and writers within the historical romance world.  Since my readership is split between readers and writers, too, I think the occasional post on big industry headlines is worthwhile.

While perusing the Wall Street Journal for other work, I spotted a small thumbnail romance novel pic which, of course, made me click to read.

According to the Journal, Sourcebooks is launching an online store dedicated to romance novels.  As one of the independent publishing leaders, the new shopfront takes aim at Amazon’s domination in ebook sales by offering a curated selection of titles at for a monthly subscription fee.

The Journal states: “A kind of online readers club, members will be able to access some of Sourcebooks’ most popular romance writers, including Grace Burrowes and Catherine Mann. Consumers will also be able to talk to those authors online via comments and live chat.”

PR spin from Sourcebooks suggests this is all about community building and to encourage romance reading risk takers to pull in the flock of rom readers to new authors and titles.  Calling the site “an experiment” in social media, essentially, its expected to be launched on April 10th.

I am not wild about being limited to one publisher, personally, and while it certainly is appealing to talk to authors in a forum, most are pretty approachable through other online means.

However, there is something interesting in the idea.  As we see indie authors starting to bank on ebook sales ( with new and backlisted titles, and with romance novels taking such big bite of the book sales apple–and even more so with the advent of ebooks (see Books Women Read When No One Can See the Cover) it stands to reason that a consortium of romance writers and indie publishers could band together to offer romance readers the titles they crave, at the prices they demand, and the connections that help new authors share a slice of the pie.

Heck, if I really wanted to make a mint…I would hook up with a device manufacturer desperate to break into the tablet market (mmm…Samsung?  Huwaei?) and have them design a device just for the romance reader that hooks up directly to the site.  Make it easy, user friendly, budget friendly and femininely fun with long battery life and a nice size memory…well, that would be market capture.

Its sort of amazing to me, actually, that in the tablet and e-reader wars no one has gotten savvy to these huge pools of genre readers and designed devices specifically for them.

To be honest, I don’t really want to go to a storefront and hang out with a bunch of authors and other readers–its too forced and artifical.  I much prefer the organic conversations on twitter, and blogs, and all the hidey holes rom readers hang out on the http://www.  What I do want, however, is a bigger selection of ebook titles, better suggestions for new authors, better links to pro reviews and reader reviews, and a robust recommendation system.  I also lurve to look at covers, and although I lurve my black and white Nook for its paperback aesthetic, I miss thumbing back to the cover to ponder the characters while I gaze at hunky man chest or tasteful sparkly colors.

I would also love a way of divvying up books in different ways.  For instance, a mood generator (ie I am feeling a bit tearful, give me a weepie) or a plot generator (give me a rakehell and give him to me now!).

What do you think?

I wish Sourcebooks well with their experiment.  I truly hope it blossoms into something resembling my ideal store.  But, if the PR is anything to be believed, I suspect we will be looking at more of the same ol’ same ol’.

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