Blogger: Rachel Zurakowski
Location: Barnes & Noble, Santa Rosa, Calif.
While I was in the bookstore, I focused my research on historical romance. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, we’ll start with the pictures of what I saw in the general fiction section:
The majority of the historical romance books in the general market section fell into the Jane Austen or Tudor categories. I was surprised to see those two Biblical fiction books.
All of the faced historical fiction were in the Jane Austen or Tudor categories. The shelf space in the fiction section was used mostly by “evergreen” projects (books that have done well for a long time) and new books by established authors. I was surprised (and somewhat relieved) not to see Pride & Prejudice and Zombies and Sense & Sensibility and Sea Monsters on the shelves, but then was shocked to find them in the teen section. That’s not where I would have shelved them!
In the religious fiction section I was one of two people browsing. The man next to me looked at me funny when I was taking pictures. 🙂 He was looking at The Shack. The Shack was faced and featured on a bestselling fiction display. The religious fiction shelves were filled almost completely with evergreens and books by bestselling authors. I, of course, was looking for historical romance and I didn’t find much!
Francine Rivers’ books were the most abundant and only three authors had historical romances on the shelves. The other two, Lynn Austin and Julee Klassen, both had one book in the store. I found this very sad! I didn’t pick up and read the back of every book, so I could have missed a couple, but there weren’t many Christian historicals in this large bookstore. Another day I’ll have to check out the local Christian bookstore to take an inventory. I hope my findings will be very different.
So based on my research (done at only one store, so it’s not very trustworthy), if I was going to write a new Christian, historical romance, I’d try writing something about characters from the Tudor or from the Regency period. If I could come up with a unique Jane Austen-type project with Christian content, that would be an ideal choice. I know author Debra White Smith has done books like this in the past (First Impressions, Reason & Romance, Northpointe Chalet), but could there be room in the Christian market for more at this time?
If you’re a historical reader, what time period are you drawn to? Would you pick up a Tudor or Regency book?