On this day, introduce yourself!
What is the name you prefer to use? - Erin - depending on the social networking site, may also use Erin@Paperbackstash, Erin (Paperbackstash), or just Paperbackstash
How long have you been a book blogger? - Since 2007. I'm starting to feel old :)
Have you participated in ABEA before? - Yes, and I enjoy it. I've participated the last several years. Category label here.
What is your favorite genre and why? - Definitely Urban Fantasy. It can have a little bit of everything. Paranormal - whether normal or non. Detailed fantasy world. A bit of horror element. Some romance tossed in sometimes.
If you could recommend one other book blogger, who would it be and why? - I respect and admire Jamie from Perpetual Page Turner. She's so imaginative, unhurried and detailed with her posts, ideas, and commitment to the world of books and blogging.
How do you arrange your bookshelves? Is there a rhyme or reason? Or not at all? (#ABEAShelfie)
I arrange by genre - then author last name. One of these days I'm going to be completely done with the bookshelves and have pictures, but until then...
On the main wall, left side of bookshelf, have Mystery, Gothic, Childrens, Young Adult, Superhero novels, Comics and Graphic novels, Biographies and random Non-Fiction. In the middle shelf have three shelves above TV - first is some paperback classics, then Hard Case Crime Novels, then I have some Sci/Fi and High Fantasy. Under the TV are my anthologies held up with ship bookends. In the cabinets below that is leftover book storage. On the left side of the main wall, I have Horror and Suspense, Then Drama and General Fiction, and the bottom three shelves are romance separated by Harlequin contemp, then historical, then contemporary. On the other wall, I have my Paranormal bookshelf with adult and YA books spread from UF to Fantasy to PR
What is the most interesting thing that you have learned through your reading this year so far? I'm finding so many unconventional romances this year that are dark and different, daring stuff that's been published within the past few years. Having fun with it since I haven't encountered it much without paranormal elements before.
Our secondary topic focuses on diversity in books and the publishing industry. Whose voices do we see? Whose voices do we need more of? Where do we find representation lacking and what can we as bloggers do to address that? What about negative or stereotypical representation?
On Diversity (first question)
An interesting question.
African American Romance
I remember seeing a mini Twitter war last month...okay, I missed most of it. I'm only lucky enough to catch the tail end of these things, where a few were complaining that a certain well-known Publisher did not give a satisfactory answer on why African American authors did not have their own imprint label and representation under the major romance divisions of that publishing company. Romance Writers of America - as well as some of the public - were unhappy with the response of a representative when a question about this was posed at a conference.
This reminded me I had seen some complaints and comments over the years in a Goodreads group, Harlequin Presents Readers, where a member I respect stated she wished there was more diversity granted with African American reader's fiction.
As to my actual opinion on the matter....I really don't know. I can understand the concern, but I'm not sure how much unfairness is actually at play. It's not something that affects me personally so it could be another case where if it's not in your worldview, you don't see if it's fair or not. I don't seek out African American romance fiction as reading material, but respect that it should of course be there and represented fairly. It seems to me publishers work on the principles of money, which comes from satisfying readers. It comes from figuring out the trends of books and what makes readers purchase books, and of course treating those readers well - but if it comes to choosing an expensive policy change in how things are done when not enough money is being spent by the public to do it (such as not enough African American romance being purchased to justify the change), then I highly doubt they'll invest in it, even if it's not the popular opinion. As they say, money talks.
It's either a case of the imprint of African American romance not selling well enough to justify broadening it, or else it's a case where's it's not promoted fairly enough to reach a broad audience and get a fair chance to take off in higher sales. I'm not sure which is the case.
There's plenty of diversity in this - M/M romance has especially taken off as a popular sub-genre in pure contemporary, historical and paranormal. I find the diversity in this genre very fair.
There's a diversity of this but I still find it unfairly treated by giants such as Amazon, especially when they did the alarming purging of erotica fiction a few years back and most people didn't notice. The censorship phase focusing on self-published erotica has been high, which is upsetting when it comes to a company that is supposed to promote the diversity of genre in books for its readers. I'm not even a pure erotica fan but it's disappointing. You can write it, but it may be difficult to find an audience for it due to popular booksellers.
Women writers in horror and dark fiction
We've finally stepped into the modern age and it seems to me women continue to get a fairer shake in horror fiction - especially suspense, where they have been highly in the running for awhile for detective procedurals with women in a starring role. While women are accepted by many for well-done horror fiction, it's still a field where mainly men seem to take the helm. Is it still because readers are more willing to take a chance on a horror novel written by a man?
Whose voices do we see?
Popularity is still the top voice on websites such as Goodreads and other book social networking services. Conglomerate giants like Amazon still take a huge piece of the pie with their reviews, deals, programs, and kindle devices/opportunities. What they sell and promote makes its own voice. I think people will pay less attention to professional reviewers as time grows, including popular newspapers and magazines as they fall into decline in print form.
Whose voices do we need more of?
I'd like more diversity for romance, as I mentioned above. I still would like the world of comics and graphic novels to be more respected. It's surprising to me the bias I see toward them on Goodreads and other reading communities. On the other hand, they still are popular in their own crowds on social networking and fan websites.
Where do we find representation lacking and what can we as bloggers do to address that?
Bloggers can take the world by storm by tweeting views and sharing it via other media that circulates. There have been many instances where heated situations discussed on blogs have spread like wildfire among the reading community via different outlets.