Monday, July 04, 2005

FictionDB and Literary Works

We are often asked if we include literary fiction on FictionDB. The answer is a somewhat emphatic "NO". You will find a few sprinkled throughout the database, but we have made no effort to include them.

I was at a book sale recently -- one of those where you wait in line for 3 hours before it opens. I stood next to a college English professor and eventually the subject came around to what we read. She, of course, was appalled by my choice of reading. I proudly read romance novels. She then went down the track of "well maybe you should read some really GOOD books, like ...." This always infuriates me and I am nothing if not opinionated and vocal about it. I am of the opinion that if you have to read a book about the book just to understand what the author is really trying to say, reading the "classic" work is a waste of time. Horrors!! Every high school English teacher's worst nightmare! To me reading is reading and any kind of reading is a good thing. I'm still thinking of going on Jeopardy and seeing how well I can do with my "romance novel" education.

My hairdresser is taking an English class right now. You know, the kind where you have to write a five paragraph paper on the book you just read. This always struck me as an odd idea. How am I to be graded? On the quality of my writing or on the content? I believe it always comes down to the quality of writing because how can someone else tell me what I got out of something I read? All the scholars in the world still can't tell you what someone who has been dead for 400 years really meant. Well, they think they can, but I still disagree.

When I was an undergrad business major, I took several upper-division history classes because I love history. What I learned in a hurry was that I wasn't being graded on my knowledge of history, I was being graded on the quality of my writing. Since I am not a great writer, my grades suffered and I stopped taking the classes. Unfortunately, GPA mattered to the companies I was looking at as potential employers.

This was so strange to me. In the English class, I was told I was being graded on the content of something that was fuzzy at best -- my interpretation of a novel. And in the history class, I wasn't being graded on history but my writing skills.

It was right about this time that my aversion to literary works crystallized. I rebelled against the academic community and their definition of quality literature. In general, if a book is released as a trade paperback -- the industry term for quality paperbacks -- I won't read it. I've found that I just don't enjoy those sorts of plots, characterizations, etc. There are plenty of websites out there who specialize in this sort of fiction, but we're not one of them.

I recently returned from Book Expo America where the publishers are promoting their upcoming releases. Genre fiction is not well-represented at BEA, but a few sneak through. Tess Gerritsen wrote a wonderful blog article on her experiences at BEA with the literary book-of-the-moment.

I am firmly of the opinion that everyone should read what they like. If you like to read literary fiction, great! If you like horror, great! Just don't tell me what I SHOULD be reading. I don't read to admire great prose. I read to be entertained.

And so I delcare my independence!

Happy 4th of July!

Friday, July 01, 2005

July Site Update Completed

The July update has just been completed and it's been a busy month for us here. We started June at Book Expo America in New York City. Check out all the new books we brought back for our subscribers. Free Books We met lots of authors and enjoyed ourselves immensely :)

We've also added over 2000 series romance covers within the last couple of months. If you've never clicked on Cover Gallery on the author detail page, you're in for a treat. If you're anything like me, the pictures of those old romances really bring back good memories of romance reading days gone by. I even found my favorite Harlequin Romance by looking through the covers -- Charlotte Lamb's Desert Barbarian.

We've just started on a new website design. Within the next couple of months, you will see the results. Don't worry, we aren't planning to drastically change the way the site works. We'll just be refreshing the look and adding additional data to some of the pages. It's going to be a big undertaking, so be patient if we don't respond to your e-mails as quickly as we should.

That's it for now, but I'm hoping to be better about blogging more often. How do those authors find the time to write??