We are in the midst of a global economic trough. Papers around the world are full of doom and gloom. The publishing industry is far from being immune with across the board job losses. Independant bookstores are closing. Every day seems to bring fresh economic woe. It is enough to make a person want to escape into reading a good book.
How does Romance and particularly series romance fare in gloomy economic times? There is the fabled Estee Lauder lipstick effect, but is there a series romance effect as well? Do women buy books when they need to feel better? For me, it is a case of forget the lipstick, I want to read. But maybe I am unique. Or am I?
UK Editorial Director, Karin Stoecker recently told the BBC "Generally speaking, we have been quite successful in gloomier economic times... it's a value-priced entertaining escape from otherwise harsh realities." You can read the rest of the article here.
For Mills & Boon, the 1930s were a time of growth as women wanted to escape. (Harlequin was founded in 1949) . The 1970s again saw growth and the uncertain early 1980s was a time of huge growth for the mass market romance genre as a whole. As recently reported in The Scotsman, Mills & Boon are doing well. In fact, if you look at Torstar's results (the parent company of Harlequin), you can see the upturn in series romance started at about the same time that the first rumblings of the sub prime mortgage problem emerged. Once again, women appear to be turning to romance for entertainment.
But why? I would have to echo the woman who I once met in hospital and who inspired me to start writing romance -- In times of trouble, you can not go wrong with a Mills & Boon.
No matter what is going on, I find life a bit easier if I can escape into a book, and my genre of choice is romance. Series romance has always been focused on providing quality entertainment at an affordable price -- something that is needed when uncertainty looms.
And speaking of escaping, my critique partner, Donna Alward has the first book in her new heartwarming romance series , Larch Valley, out this month. Because the postal system threatened to eat the copy she first sent, Donna kindly sent me another signed copy with my Christmas parcel. Well the postal system did eventually decide to cough up the first parcel and then eventually the Christmas parcel, so I have an extra copy. And when I was ill with the flu in December, I found The Rancher's Runaway Princess was the perfect way to escape.
So for this month's contest, I am offering a signed copy of The Rancher's Runaway Princess.
If you want a chance to win, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the answer to the following question: what series line does Donna write for? Please put Totebags Jan contest in the email and I will draw the winner on 17 January.
UPDATE: Stepfanie (book freak) was the name drawn out of the hat. I have sent an email. Many thanks to all who entered.