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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Romance Novels Pulped For Road Resurfacing

By A.J. Llewellyn

I have a mate who constantly ribs me about my erotic romance novels. He sends me snide little emails asking how the business is treating me. He asks how the panting and kissing and slobbering are going.

I email back, telling him I am making a living from the books he sneers at...well, I'm able to pay some bills, anyway. He, however keeps tilting at windmills. Not that I have anything against him tilting at windmills. I am a dreamer, myself.

But I am sick and tired of people putting down romance novels. This morning, he forwarded me an online item all the way from Wales, written by Robin Turner who reports that thousands of Mills & Boon novels [the British equivalent of Harlequin romance novels] have been pulped 'into tiny fibre pellets, called bitumen modifiers, and are used to hold the ‘black top’ in place, resurfacing roads such as the M6 and M4.’

According to the article, 'a mile of motorway consumes about 50,000 books and several million Mills & Boon novels have gone into them.'

That's better than burning them, I suppose.

If you check the quoted lines above, it is clear that not only romance novels have gone into filling roadways, but romance novels take a licking and despite all the teeth gnashing, they keep on ticking.

The truth is, the publishing industry world-wide has been trashing, pulping and otherwise destroying books for decades.

This is the big ugly secret that publishing doesn't tell it's starry-eyed new authors. I knew about it because I worked in bookstores for years and I used to cry at night when I was forced to rip the covers of perfectly good books to be shipped back to publishers.

It was like killing babies to me.

I also work in a public library and I know how quickly newly released books become obsolete.

I am also a published author and I learned early on that the average shelf life of a new book in the stores is two weeks.

That is why ebooks are breathing new life into publishing.

An ebook can live forever. Paperbacks resulting from them also can live forever because most are POD, meaning when you order from Amazon or whatever, the book is printed immediately and shipped to you. Most of the big NYC publishers are going POD now for this reason.

No more pulp, no more street fillers.

I want to remind all the high-falutin' authors out there that it is predominantly romantic and erotic fiction that sells in ebook format.

We have paved the way, literally, for the rest of you. So remember that as you pen your next Great American Novel, Romance Lives Forever.

Aloha oe,



Jambrea said...

Amen! :)

Great post. When I was reading romance and not writing I would always get the comment about reading a real book. It upset me. Now writing them, it upsets me more. Wasn't there a news report recently about Romance novels selling more then other novels in these hard economic times?

You're right, those of us in the Ebook world right now ARE paving the way.


Patti Shenberger said...

Oh I love reading the Harlequin Mills & Boon books. So sad, but if this are old and worn out copies, then ok, recycle them rather than throw them away.

As an ebook author, I share your sentiments on how the ebook can live forever.

Tina Haveman said...

The destruction of books is one of the reasons I became an e-book and POD publisher ten years ago. Zumaya Publications was my first baby. Since then, we have put out many POD books through Zumaya and many of them live to this day. How many best selling New York authors are there whose books went out of print? If a book is published as Print on Demand, it can stay for sale as a print book forever, and with no print runs, there are few wasted books.

e-Books were even more frowned upon way back when. Now, the big publishers are jumping on the bandwagon and putting a lot of books out as e-books. Just go take a peek at Fictionwise. The big difference is, they tend to charge ridiculous prices for their e-books, whereas we stay reasonable.

To hear that books are being used for roads, that just boggles the mind. As AJ said, well,at least they're being used for something rather than burnt--but the thought of driving on top of someone's precious book, their hours of writing, editing etc., that's awful. Why not recycle?

courtneybreazile said...

I am all for recycling, in whatever form. If they could not be used in a more useful way i guess its better than nothing. I do feel bad for the author who knows their book is being driven on, its all ok if its annonymous, but i wouldn't want to know mine is there.
Glad i am an e-book author so i don't have to worry about that.

Anonymous said...

Yeah I went into Borders Express the other day and they were tearing covers. And all of them were unhappy about it.

And then earlier this month I watched as the lady who stocks the K-mart I work at do the same thing and she was in tears from having to do it. She said, "It's such a damn waist and why can't more publishers go POD instead of going through all this waist. Send like 10 books to each store not the 100 or so they do send. And then go from there."

I feel so sorry for every author that has to go through something like that. I mean it's so hard sometimes to just get published in the first place. And then find out that your book is getting it's cover ripped off after what 2-3 weeks? It has to be devastating.

I am so glad that there are e-books out there now. And you are right Tina they do charge ridiculous prices for them over at I buy from the actual e-book publisher or so that I don't waist paper like that.

AJ Llewellyn said...

Thanks for the awesome comments everyone - you all made amazing points!

xo AJ

Erin Sinclair said...

This may be an odd way to look at it, but one could say many British drivers are now moving along the Highways and Byways of Love! That's really kind of cool when you think about it. :-D


Lynn Crain said...

I love it, AJ!

You are so right. I remember when I'd hide my romances from my mother because they were not something a well bred young lady should read. NOT! LOL!

I consumed romances from the time I was 12 on. I still have the very first Harlequin Romance I ever read. It was called Castles in Spain and there are times when I will go back to it, flip the pages and remember that very first time. It's so refreshing.

eBooks are the wave of the future and more are reading them each day.


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