I wrote up my recent reading over at my blog, and talked about reading Bedded By Her Lord by Denise Lynn on a flight from New York to Los Angeles:
One of the things I admire about Harlequin is that they deliver exactly what they promise, and to make sure of this, they announce it on the cover, right there in the title. I don't need to tell you what this book is about-- you already know. It's genius marketing, really. But I kind of wished for a little less marketing genius while I was reading it on the plane, arousing the delight of the sketchy guy across the aisle and the contempt of the girl in my row who was reading Sartre. (Yes, really.) Oh well. At least I got used to defensively reading paperbacks with racy covers lo these many years ago, or I might have been really uncomfortable.
Racy covers were always a problem for me, starting with the bodice-ripper pirate romances that were my introduction to romance novels, thanks to the bargain bin at the local Woolworth's. And when I say they were a problem for me, what I mean is, they were clearly a problem for everyone who saw my pre-teen self clutching one of those covers to my nose, eagerly drinking them in. I received horrified lectures from shopkeepers, teachers, the parents of friends.
Does your mother know what you're reading? one store owner demanded, refusing to sell me a Shirlee Busbee novel when I was in the ninth grade.
Never one to be shy or retiring in the face of injustice, I promptly responded that while my mother might not know which book I was reading, she wouldn't care, as she did not censor my reading material. (Which was happily true, though the mean old troll still refused to sell me the book.)
As time went on, friends turned up their noses at my collection of romances and refused to read them, even when I told them these books were the best I'd ever read. The poetic, angry young men I wanted to date sneered at them. While I was in graduate school, an old friend introduced me by saying, she's studying for a PhD AND she reads romance novels!!, and then everyone in the room gawked at me.
Now that I'm an author, I know exactly how little input authors have into their covers, and I also know that the racier the cover, the more copies the book will sell. So I can only think that for every prim creature who gasped or sneered at one of the racy covers in my hand, three more hurried out and bought themselves a copy.
I know I'm not the only person who has had to contend with these sorts of responses. Short of clubbing the Sartre-reading snob over the head with my Harlequin Historical (and having read both, I think Denise Lynn was the better choice), what's your go-to response for the inevitable snobbery you encounter out there?