Reviews

‘My favourite type of mystery, suspenseful, and where everyone is not what they appear . . . Christine is great at creating atmosphere . . . she evokes the magic of the stage, and her characters [have] a past to be uncovered before the mystery is solved.’ [Stage Fright]

- Lizzie Hayes, MYSTERY WOMEN

Should crime novels be mixed in with other books?

00004595-112x123Or should they have their own section in book shops? Waterstones in Sheffield has recently reordered their shelves to slot the crime in with the other fiction – and I don’t like it. Hatchards on St Pancras station have done it too. I can appreciate the argument in favour: it is all literature and perhaps if crime fiction has its own section this implies that crime is something different (and perhaps lesser?). But when I am in the mood for crime – and I so often am – I want to browse crime fiction and nothing else. I don’t want to have to scan all the other fiction too.

To make it worse, short story collections aren’t grouped together. I was looking for the new British Library Golden Age collection, Serpents in Eden: Countryside Crime, and couldn’t work out where it might be, until I thought of looking under E for Martin Edwards, the editor.

Please, Waterstones, go back to your old ways and put all the crime fiction together with collections of short stories at the beginning like you used to do. I’ll be more likely to find what I want and buy it.

12 Comments

  1. Peggy
    March 8, 2016

    I’m with you. It’s the first section I check. How can I find a new mystery if they’re mixed in with fiction? If it’s a new to me author, I wouldn’t notice. Do they really want me to find it on Amazon? Your Amazon does much better than ours (US) making recommendations on their emails. Most are pretty spot on for what I like. DVDs, too.

    Reply
    • Christine Poulson
      March 8, 2016

      Glad you agree. And it’s infuriating, when they move everything round. It is the same in supermarkets. You have just got used to where things are . . .
      Amazon are sometimes spot on for me, sometimes not. They offered me my own book not so long ago.

      Reply
  2. Kevin
    March 9, 2016

    I’m torn with this debate. I can understand and agree with your views but I have difficulty when it comes to those books and authors that are hard to define by genre. Also, by lumping everyone into one general pot, there is always the possibility of finding new books/authors/genres that one wouldn’t have even looked for had there been clearly defined genres.

    My ideal solution would be to have various genres but also a copy of those books in among the general A-Z shelves. Obviously space dictates a stores placement and number of categories.

    I suppose a “Top 10 (100)” books regardless of genre could overcome the issue of new books/authors not being found but doesn’t help authors outside of the top 10 (100) to be easily spotted.

    Oh the dilemmas. Thank goodness I am not limited by time and can browse whichever shelves I feel inclined to approach. I even get to touch some of them to satisfy my tactile inclinations (not that I’m weird or anything).

    Reply
    • Christine Poulson
      March 9, 2016

      A brilliant idea: to have two copies (or more) copies of everything in different sections! I like to handle books too: not being able to do that is one of the problems with buying on the internet.

      Reply
  3. Helen
    March 9, 2016

    You’re so right!! I was really disappointed with this in Sheffield.

    By the bye, how do people feel about LBGT sections? Last time I looked Waterstones Sheffield didn’t have one but most other branches seem to.

    To me it seems a really retrograde step, like Women’s Pages in 1970s newspapers : am I not supposed to browse these books because I’m straight and is the rest of the shop off-limits to the LBGT community?

    Or am I just old and grumpy?!!

    Reply
    • Christine Poulson
      March 9, 2016

      I agree about the LBGT section. After all the book shops don’t divide the books into ones for men and ones for women. If you are old and grumpy, so am I!

      Reply
  4. Naomi
    March 10, 2016

    Booksellers think they are dignifying genre fiction by mixing it with general fiction but this is user (buyer)-unfriendly. Perhaps it will result in a loss of sales and thus a correction. Re an LGBTQ section: I’m undecided: no one says you can’t browse there if you’re not in the demographic, and it makes it easier to locate those titles if that’s what you’re seeking. But segregating Sarah Waters, etc., doesn’t feel right either.

    Reply
    • Christine Poulson
      March 10, 2016

      Yes, I think there is likely to be a reaction. And I take your point about gay literature et al. I also agree about Sarah Waters. It’s never seemed to me that she wasn’t a mainstream novelist.

      Reply
  5. Martin Edwards
    March 17, 2016

    Although there are pros and cons, on balance I favour separate crime sections. Glad you found Serpents in Eden. The Golden Age of Murder crops up in even unlikelier areas of bookshops. I’m sometimes amazed that it’s sold more than a few copies.

    Reply
  6. Moira, Clothes in Books
    March 17, 2016

    Hmm, I keep changing my mind on this – segregation seems wrong, but there’s nothing like finding a really great crime section to browse (do I need to say Heffers?). I like Kevin’s idea, above, of top 100 books – even though that might not help with obscure ones.

    Reply
    • Christine Poulson
      March 18, 2016

      Oh yes, Heffers. I love it. And it wouldn’t be the same if they were scattered throughout the rest of the fiction. I know what you mean though about segregation.

      Reply

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