False Advertising?

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Angie W blogged about this the other day but I completely missed it so for everyone’s benefit, here is an excerpt from an interview with Editorial Director of the new Aphrodisia line:

PNR: In your opinion, how far can you go with erotic content and have it still be considered romance?

Audrey L.: Aphrodisia would not be considered romance by many traditionalists. It is categorized as “Erotic Romance” for a simple, practical reason, we want it to be sold to the romance buyer and go into or near the romance section of the bookstore. If it had “Erotica” on the spine, it would go into general fiction or an erotica section if the store has one, and our readers (who are primarily romance readers who want something hotter) would not be able to find our books easily. Other than that, Aphrodisia does not have to conform to the usual parameters of romance.

That’s working the system. I had the same problem with the Spice line placement. Bookseller Chick noted that

according to the computer they are supposed to be shelved in romance and not fiction (probably for the very reason that Nicole states). Unconvinced I checked a couple of other sites and they all said the same thing, so into romance they went. The only title we've sold out of has been the Forster, so it will be interesting to see if anyone returns it disappointed.

Which made me think about Truth in Advertising:

What makes an advertisement deceptive?
According to the FTC’s Deception Policy Statement, an ad is deceptive if it contains a statement – or omits information – that:

* is likely to mislead consumers acting reasonably under the circumstances; and
* is “material” – that is, important to a consumer’s decision to buy or use the product.

The express statement made by the labeling “Erotic Romance” is that this book is a romance. I think it goes without saying that a romance is one that has an HEA. Audrey L is comes very close in her interview to admitting that they are committing false advertising because “Aphrodisia would not be considered romance by many traditionalists.” To me there is a big difference between erotica and romantica (TM Ellora’s Cave) and, I am guessing, to most romance readers. If I need to start reading each and every trade paperback in the romance section to determine whether I am going to be getting a romance, alot less impulse buying will take place. For me, that means alot less buying of those novels, or, at least, a lot more returning. Maybe someone needs a refresher course in FTC rules.

Maybe some booksellers can weigh in on whether they have had returns/sell throughs/feedback on these books. And Readers, do you feel that the labeling of erotic books as erotic romance when they aren’t really romances is deceptive?

Best regards,


By Jane Litte