It’s rare that we do anything with press releases other than send them right to the trash or tell the publicist that they should go and screw themselves. It’s even rarer that we actually appreciate the information being sent to us because it is refreshingly unique, as was the case when we heard that the Silver Unicorn Bookstore of Acton is bringing a romance novel pop-up to Bow Market for a week starting on Feb 12.
“This partnership came to fruition out of a mutual desire to see romance novels move more to the forefront of the conversation in the publishing industry,” wrote Paul Swydan, owner of the Silver Unicorn. “Seventy-five percent of romance consumers buy 50-plus books per year. … With 20 percent of romance readers living in the Northeast, we feel we have a good opportunity to shine the spotlight on the romance genre.”
Wow. That’s a whole lot of sexy. We asked Katie Eelman and Clarissa Murphy, who are collaborating with Silver Unicorn on the concept, for some more details.
How is it even legal that there isn’t a pop-up romance novel boutique on every corner before V-Day?
KE: It should absolutely be mandatory by law that every corner is populated by a pop-up romance novel boutique—year-round!
Whose idea was this? How many romance novels do they read a year? Are they just trying to unload them on the rest of us?
KE: Back in early November, Clarissa Murphy voiced the idea out loud in a social media post that Paul Swydan saw, and it snowballed from there. Clarissa reads around 30 romance novels per year and wanted to share them with the world, because romance genre books have become more than “Caucasian royalty diddling the help,” and she’s not alone.
One-third of American females read romance genre books, and sales of romance books represent over $1 billion per year and account for roughly one-third of the US fiction market. With those stats in mind, it only makes sense to pop up and show up, shame-free, for this huge amount of readers.
What’s the hottest current trend in romance novels?
KE: The romance genre hottest trends currently include feminist heroines; active consent; romance and resistance; and neuro-, gender, racial, and ethnic diversity
We have to ask: Will there be any books that have Fabio as the cover model? Or are those all collector’s items at this point?
CM: It definitely wouldn’t be the romance genre without our dearly beloved Fabio. He’s not featured on too many books these days, but we’re endeavoring to find a cardboard cutout of him for the pop-up, because part of the space will be devoted to a photo booth-esque area where customers can create their own romance novel cover, and we think it’d be good fun if Fabio can be in them.
How diverse is the romance novel marketplace these days?
KE: The romance genre is extremely diverse as it pertains to race, ethnicity, ability, neurology, and of course gender, sexual identity, and orientation. When planning inventory for this pop-up, we were careful to ensure that readers can find themselves and their fantasies in the pages. We worked with publishers—who are proactively working to publish more inclusively—to make sure we were current and thoughtful in our selections. LBGTQ titles account for far more of the genre than is publicly acknowledged. We’re excited to sling some incredible queer love stories.
Is romance novel shopping recommended for couples? Or is this a solo adventure?
CM: Who hasn’t “snuck” into the romance section in a bookstore and read aloud the saucy bits to a friend or lover? You can shop romances alone, together, as a threesome, foursome, however you please. There are collections written specifically to be read aloud in bed with your partner, and man, let me tell you, they do the job!
ROMANCE NOVEL POP-UP. BOW MARKET, UNION SQUARE, SOMERVILLE. 2.12-2.19. BOOK SIGNINGS ON 2.16 W/ NICOLE GALLAND (1PM) AND MEREDITH GOLDSTEIN (6PM).