A question was raised on Twitter earlier today by Brie (@14NC)
It got a few people thinking, including me.
Despite the fact that a lot of libraries do separate genre fiction, the crux of the question was about the layout of bookshops.
When we first opened, we tried a couple of things. One of them was incorporating poetry into fiction.
I wrote this about it on the blog, way back in 2008.
" At the moment we've got poetry, essays and plays in with fiction. The reason for this was that we hoped people would be doing the usual thing of looking through fiction (the main section people look through) and would find a book of poetry 'by mistake'. It's worked well on some occasions, and I doubt we'd have sold 3 copies of Tarantula by Bob Dylan, if it had been in the poetry section, but at the same time we've uncovered a large population of local poets who are up in arms about this. So we've caved in."
Funny thing is though, looking back, we don't sell any poetry from the poetry section. And we did sell it when it was in fiction.
There's the argument that if a customer is, say, a sci-fi nut, who reads nothing but science fiction, he/she will want this to be a separate section. If Science Fiction was incorporated into Fiction, I'm worried that it will put those customers off.
It's the same with crime, horror etc. But I love the idea of serendipity when it comes to browsing. Finding something that you'd never expect to find. Perhaps having it all under the label "Fiction" will mean that more people will find something unexpected and try something different....
Oh man, this is tricky.
Daunt Bookshops do things differently again. They shelve books geographically - with guides, phrase books, travel writing, history and fiction grouped by their relevant country. This is brilliant and quirky. And it seems to work for them. But their shops are aimed specifically at book lovers with time to browse and also a bit of disposable income (their branches are located in the more well off areas of London).
I would love to integrate horror, crime, science fiction, fantasy and short stories into the general fiction section, but I need persuading that it's a good idea. Oh, and graphic novels too. Perhaps there's a way which the genres can be highlighted within the section. Maybe it doesn't have to be alphabetical. I don't know.
Some of our customers (particularly the ones who like specific genres) will not be keen on this idea. But there's something about it that I like.
Any advice or suggestions would be very welcome.