Plain Brown Wrapper

Distracting the Duchess in People MagazineI’m as old school a bibliophile as they come. I actually like the musty smell of books. I love the sight of a fresh uncracked spine because I know I have hours of delight ahead of me.

But lately, I’ve been happily reading on the Kindle app on my cell phone. No one is more surprised than me. For me, it’s a question of convenience. As long as I have my phone, I have something to read. Plus as a condo-dweller, I’m really excited about how many shelves I can clear because my library is now digital. At least partially. There are some physical books I’ll never part with.

However, the New York Times (and People magazine) have come up with yet another reason that romance readers are switching to ereaders. They think privacy is a good motivator. The writers at the Times think romance readers are embarrassed by the cover art of their reading choices and an ereader serves the same function as a “plain brown wrapper.” The ereader makes a guilty pleasure possible on public transit or in a professional waiting room without telegraphing what the reader is indulging in.

Yet more evidence that mainstream publishing believes romance is thinly veiled female pornography.

What they don’t understand is that the relationship between a hero and heroine is the primary focus in romance. The sensual connection is only one component of that larger story. We want emotion. We want a love that tugs at our hearts. And a non-negotiable Happily Ever After.

What do you think? Is the Times onto something? If you use an ereader, are you more adventurous in your reading choices because no one but you sees the cover art associated with your titles? Or do you love the cover art on your books and don’t give a flying fig who sees you reading them?

7 thoughts on “Plain Brown Wrapper

  1. Jeanne M says:

    I finally got a Kobo e-reader but I’m only planning on using it when I travel (think lighter suitcases since I generally take 1 book/day I’ll be gone – think variety).

    I love feel of a book in my hands and I don’t care if it’s a paperback or hard cover. There is the thrill of turning the pages, re-reading that favorite passage or checking back to check – did he/she really say/think that?

    It’s the thrill of loving the changing landscape of the story and like a found remembrance being able to visit it again.

    For traveling I’ll probably use the reader but at home and work the “real thing” is (hopefully) here to stay!

  2. MiaMarlowe says:

    Lana–Re: the “thought you were smart” comment. Romance readers are generally very well educated and several of my writing friends are college professors or professionals with advanced degrees in their day jobs.

    Next time someone says that to you, ask them how many books they read last month? Bet you will have read circles around them.

  3. MiaMarlowe says:

    Romance Girl–The convenience of an ereader is the big thing for me. I love having a selection of books to read in my phone.

    But I do love the beautiful covers. How could I not when I’ve been kissed by the cover faeries with TOUCH OF A THIEF?

  4. MiaMarlowe says:

    Barbara–I remember seeing a man on the Boston T reading a very pink romance novel with a bodic ripping cover. Obviously a fellow who’s comfortable in his own skin.

  5. Lana says:

    I really love my eReader for a lot of things – the convenience of having a ton of books with me without weighing me down while travelling, for example. And, I’ll admit, when it comes to some of the more erotic titles, I prefer having something more discreet.

    But when it comes to normal romance? I’m not embarrassed by the covers. I get a lot of guff from people (someone actually said “I thought you were smart…” when they saw me reading a romance), but clearly that’s THEIR problem. Not mine!

  6. Romance Girl says:

    I use an eReader on a limited basis for traveling and if I need a book for a group right away. Personally, I love the covers and love the feel of books in my hand. But to get to your main question, I give give a “flying fig” what others think of what I read. As long as I am the one paying for my books, I will bloody well read what I want. Thank you very much. :-)

  7. Barbara Monajem says:

    I love the cover art (sometimes, anyway) and don’t care who sees me reading romances, but some people have no choice but to hide the covers, because of their jobs — schoolteachers, for example.

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