I’m having a tiffy over here. So I went to a local bookseller this week and I was perusing my favorite Fantasy/Science Fiction section as always when I noticed a distinct lack of some books that I consider to be urban fantasy by female authors. When I asked the bookseller they pointed me to the romance aisle, paranormal romance to be exact.
Then there they were. Now I know it’s probably been beaten around before. Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance share some distinct similarities.
But for me – they are NOT one in the same. PNR strikes me as romance centric. You take away the romance and the whole story wouldn’t really stand on it’s legs. Or if you swap out the setting for a contemporary one and its still the same story. Urban Fantasy is very much fantasy and not focused on romance – there of course might be some romance but PNR it is not.
So my ire was great when I found authors like Kim Harrison, Anne Bishop’s Written in Red, Faith Hunter, and Patricia Briggs in this section. Because to me those are urban fantasy and belong in a different aisle. While authors like Richard Kadrey, Jim Butcher, Simon R. Green, Mike Carey, etc can be found in the SFF section. To me these series share all the same elements and yes indeed each still have an element of relationships in them (heck almost every book you read does – though I can’t speak to how heavily for Mike Carey since I haven’t read one of his books yet).
So why in the world are the female authors relegated to the aisle of Romance? Is it the fault of the bookseller for not knowing the difference? Am I wrong and these are really paranormal romance? Is it sexual discrimination? Is it shelving based on covers? What in the world is it? – and did I even ask the bookseller? No I didn’t. I did however make a comment while standing in that section and she was shelving books near me that these books belonged in the SFF section – or why not make an urban fantasy section? Goodness knows there’s enough of it.
When I started talking to another of my dear blogger buddies she tried to have me see some reasoning behind the booksellers error. Perhaps they are being shelved there because the romance section sells more heavily with their clientele and that way the books will have a better chance of getting picked up. That’s a possibility.
However, I can’t help but be aggravated at the bookseller and just in general. I can’t say that the actions were sexist because I don’t know the motives behind why they were shelved that way. But at initial glance they APPEAR that way because of the fact that it was all female authors that this happened with.
What say you readers? Do you have any other ideas as to why this would have been done? Are any of you booksellers and see this practice in use?