Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Relationship Fiction

W H Smith recently declared that from the middle of October it will no longer use "Women's Fiction" on promotional material in their stores. Evidently the company received complaints from two female shoppers who found the label condescending and offensive. Two things pop into mind - what are they going to use instead, and I had no idea just two complaints would change something in their store.

There is a rumour that "relationship fiction" is to be the new banner. People in the business of selling books say Women's Fiction and Chick Lit has always been about how women deal with relationships rather than the bigger issues dealt with in other types of fiction. In many ways I have to agree, but it isn't always simply getting a man that makes the story. There are complications that affect whole families, but I guess that still comes under the relationship banner. I suppose the smart thing would be to shelve the books as libraries used to do - a simple A-Z author sequence whch avoids all the cute headings.

People like the headings. They don't want to spend the time browsing through forty thousand books every time they want something to read.  And I suspect that most women like the heading Women's Fiction. And anyway, do you think a new banner is going to change the type of book that is taken off the shelves? I doubt it. But it will be interesting to watch the struggle.

1 comment:

Deborah Swift said...

Hi Jen, thanks for visiting my blog, and it's nice to be here on yours! Yes it's interesting this whole thing about Chic or Relationship Lit. I think people look for particular authors, not necessarily the label anyway. Book Jackets too have a lot to answer for in pigeonholing an author.