What do you do when one of your favourite authors visits your library? You talk about books, of course!
When I arrived—half an hour late and with the Lilliputians in tow—to Books Alive author Bronwyn Parry’s meet and greet at Ultimo Library, it seems I may have interrupted an animated discussion about books. I felt a little awkward, butting into the conversation, but it’s almost impossible to hang out with book lovers and not be caught up in the discussion.
Located near the library entrance, Bron’s table was the first thing I saw as I walked through the doors. Seated at a large, round table were Bronwyn Parry, Louisa Dear (her publicist), Vassiliki (our librarian host), and a couple of us readers.
It was a far cry from Decadence’s recent author signing experience, but it made for a much more intimate experience. For someone long past her teenybopper years, this was a very good thing.
I didn’t take notes, so I’ll have to go by memory to recount some of what we discussed. I’ll probably miss a lot of stuff, so if anyone else was at Ultimo, feel free to fill in the gaps!
We talked about the romance market in Australia, and the oft-quoted statistic that 1 in every 5 paperbacks sold in the country is a Mills and Boon. There were suggestions that perhaps it’s because they’re in a very affordable price range, but also because they’re easy and quick to digest. Also, the statistics are about volume, and this doesn’t necessarily reflect market share.
Women’s reading habits change when they start a family
We then segued into an very, very interesting discussion on women’s reading habits. Vassiliki mentioned that she had mums coming in to ask for reading recommendations because they’d not read a book for months while caring for their newborns.
I’d never thought of this before—that women’s reading options may be cyclical, dictated by time constraints when raising children. The loss of reading time may have a huge impact, particularly for women who were avid readers before becoming mothers. (I admit that I’m one of the exceptions. This is because I nearly kill myself to read books. Your mileage—and sleep requirements—may vary.)
Where are the short stories and novellas?
We talked about the scarcity of novellas in the Australian market. Because women with young kids don’t have much time to read, a lot of them look for short story collections and novellas. We do have short stories, but they’re usually collections by a single author. What about anthologies?
I mentioned that romance authors don’t do short stories very well, in my experience. Others made the very good point that it’s much harder to develop a romance plot in a short story. But in other genres, such as crime fiction, it could work a lot better.
(Personally, I do think this is a gap in the market. I’d love to read well-edited and well-written romance anthologies. I’ve bought a few anthologies in the last few years, but rarely have they worked for me as a whole. Usually, I’ll like 1 or 2 stories and the rest will be meh.)
As library closing time approached, we bought a few books that Bron graciously signed for us. I noticed that her copies of As Darkness Falls feature the red font on the spine. I wish I’d bought the orange or yellow ones that I saw at Dymocks Broadway. I’m still not sure why they had different colours!
(And can I just say, the only reason I didn’t already have a copy of As Darkness Falls was because I saw the books at Dymocks and could not make up my mind which one to get. These are the issues that defeat me.)
A big THANK YOU to Vassiliki and the staff at Ultimo Library for hosting the meet and greet and not kicking us out at 6pm sharp. It was difficult to stop talking about books!
And now I’m off to write up my review of Dark Country. I promise…
I took a couple of photos, which you can find on Flickr.