When Jane asked me to write about erotic romance, I was initially going to comment more on the difference between erotica and erotic romance. To over simplify it, it's like comparing Penthouse Letters to Ellora's Cave. It goes without saying that most who read Dear Author will know the difference. So as I began to put my thoughts down I was taken in a completely different direction. Is erotic romance here to stay or just a trend? Do readers want a happy ever after? Are readers interested in a plot and storyline? And finally, will New York publishers ever find their groove and become frontrunners in the industry or will they always be trailing after the much more successful e-publishers?
There can be no doubt that the erotic romance trend has become a major player in the romance industry. When New York publishers scramble to fill a niche and develop new lines completely devoted to a sub-genre, you know it's here to stay. Unfortunately, I mean the trend and not necessarily the lines.
Aphrodisia (Kensington), Spice (Harlequin) and Avon Red (Harper Collins) have all established their own erotic romance lines. Now word is that Warner is also developing a line. What frustrates me as a reader (and yes, as a bookseller) is that New York has trouble figuring out what it is that readers are looking for. I sat in on the erotic romance seminar at the Romantic Times convention in Daytona Florida and was aghast to hear that not only did the New York editors say that NO HAPPY ENDING was needed, but the Spice editor said that ANYthing goes, including lesbian storylines &emdash; HUH??? REALLY?? Is that what we're looking for?? In fact Ellora's Cave recently announced that they would no longer be accepting F/F stories.
Aphrodisia seems to be the most successful of the new lines. They started out gang busters, but have recently been falling short. This could be for a couple of reasons &emdash; content (no HEA required) or covers. Sin by Sharon Page is at the top of the worst list &emdash; what does Adam and Eve (in their little leaves) have to do with a Victorian Era house party/orgy?? Readers who love Robin Schone won't want to miss out on Sin so don't be fooled by the cover. It's actually one of the few Aphrodisia's that I've even been able to finish. Jane just showed me the cover for Take Two by Evangeline Anderson, November 2006 release from Aphrodisia, I laughed out loud! Put a pair of roller skates on them and I'm ready to watch The Starlight Express . . . I think I want the computer generated covers back! Not that I thought that this industry would ever get out of the cover wars!!
As for Spice? Well, I haven't been able to even finish one. Nor have I been able to sell them, I sold one copy of the latest Spice and I consider that good! I know that Dear Author wasn't impressed with the ad campaign (remember the woman holding the book with hot pads??). Bookseller Chick had some better