Thursday, January 21, 2010

Industry Insider: Sue Grimshaw!

A huge Pink Heart Society welcome to our special Industry Insider guest today, Sue Grimshaw! Sue is the Romance buyer for Borders and well known in the industry as being a marvelous ambassador for the genre. Thanks Sue for taking the time to answer a few of our questions today!

We'd like to know a bit about how things work at Borders in respect to the Romance genre. How does Borders view category - is it best left on the endcap for 3 weeks to do its thing, or is there more to it?

Borders has always viewed category romance as part of the romance business overall. Harlequin works very closely with us to determine our assortment & merchandising presentation, as well as, promotional opportunities that we can offer the customer. It has been a stable business for us & one that we will continue to offer as long as our customers continue to buy, & that should be for a very long time.

Is there are particular order the books are put in their end cap?

Romance maintains two end-caps in most stores. Title selection for those fixtures is determined by the publishing schedule and volume of the buy. The theme for the endcaps can vary between Best Sellers, New Releases, author themed, sub-genre themed, etc. We do leave some placement up to store discretion as well so they can merchandise the right books to their customers.

Which are the most popular lines at Borders? Does it vary from region to region?

Book trends vary from region to region, store to store, even vary month to month :-) . Much is determined by what is being published so when we review trends we try to take into account a broad enough period of time. Right now, paranormal romances continue to top the charts as far as sales trends above last year; contemporary romances are also very strong.

Do the lines carried vary much store by store?

Title selection varies from store to store but the sub categories within romance are available in all stores.

Do category romances ever catch your eye?

Oh sure – much like the customer I end up reading many of the best selling authors that continue to write category books. Certain titles seem to sell better than others so I review those books as well to see what triggered the customer’s interest.

What trends in romance are you noticing? Are the trends the same in category?

The nostalgic, small town contemporaries continue to sell well. Paranormal romances also appeal to our readers & sexier stories no matter what the sub-genre, sell very well. Desire & Presents are the top selling lines in category & those are predominantly contemporary stories.

What do you think category romance offers that is unique?

Category is a great way for readers to find new authors without much time or financial investment. For busy moms, it is a quick read but fulfilling story, & they’re great to take on vacation – the smaller size is easier to pack.

And a few more personal type fun questions:

What is the very best part of your job?

Reading the books of course! I really enjoy all aspects of the job but being able to read all the different books within the genre is great fun to me. I enjoy meeting romance readers too, just like them, I love to discuss the books with others that have the same interest. Getting to meet romance readers is one of the reasons why I’m looking forward to ROMCON, as I can’t wait to chat with everyone ( I also enjoy meeting with readers on our blog, Borders True Romance (

What is the worst part?

Oh, probably some of the mundane stuff I have to do from day to day --- but, even that I don’t mind – every job has that, right?

What are you reading right now?

Nick’s story in Stephanie Tyler’s new romantic suspense series, TOO HOT TO HOLD – yummy! OOps done with that (& loved it!), now reading ECSTASY UNVEILED by Larissa Ione -- what a voice!

What’s your absolute favourite subgenre to read? What’s your reading weakness?

Favorite sub-genre is historical – not sure why really but even with all of the new sub-genre’s romance has acquired over the years, historical books are my favorites. I'm all about the characters & the emotional relationship, so if an author can serve that up I'm all over it!

Thanks PHS for having me & Borders on your blog – I’d like to encourage your readers to stop on by BTRB, Border’s True Romance Blog ( to visit & comment on some of our author, editor & blogger posts – we always manage to have a fun time & you never know when there is a giveaway!

All the best in the New Year,


Another big thanks to Sue for being with us today! And don't forget to comment - one lucky commenter will get a $15 Borders e-gift card as a prize!


  1. congrats on teh webiste
    i go there whoo
    great books
    love wining there too lol
    great authors
    glad u came here

    kim h

  2. I love Borders because they have such a homey atmosphere and the employees are so helpful!

  3. Sue, what a wonderful, informative post! I'm a brand new writer, but I've been a reader forever. And as mother of three kids three and under, I can tell you, category romance is perfect for moms, busy women in general really! A short, satisfying read that guarantees a happy ending (and a sexy hero) Who can resist that?

  4. Very nice post, Sue! I'm looking forward to ROMCON, too! Can't wait to see you there and especially to have fun with readers. I think I'm going to join in the "Speed Date a New Author" activity, which sounds like so much fun. Great way for readers to meet new authors... and for us to meet lots of readers.

  5. Thanks for a really great interview.
    I learned a fair bit, especially with respect to the various web sites and genres. Interesting to read about what is "hot" right now. It's also reassuring to hear that there are other avid readers who read a variety of books too.
    Thanks again.

  6. Sue --

    Thank you so much for being here and penning such an imformative post.
    It is great to hear the behind scenes take.

  7. Fascinating to hear from another side of the field. I live in the UK and Borders here has just closed - I loved it, so I'm very sad now as I can't get American books and mags.

  8. Thanks very much, Sue, for such an interesting post - lovely to hear about the industry from a different angle.

  9. Borders is definitely my favorite book store. If I'm looking around someone always wants to make sure that I was able to find what I want. I visit Sue's Borders blog and she has many different authors and interesting subjects.

  10. Thanks for being here Sue! I'm with you on Historicals. I write contemporary and love those too, but there is something about being swept away to another time and place that I just adore.

  11. Great information, Sue, as always. I also think the Borders Blog is such a good idea.

  12. Thanks for being here, Sue. Larissa Ione is a very good friend of mine, and I just love her books! Can't wait to get the new one. :)

    Any books that are coming out this year that you're looking forward to in particular?

  13. A really interesting and informative post... Have to say I was totally gutted when our local Borders closed here in the UK. It's the first place I saw my book on the shelf!

  14. Hi Ladies! My you're all up early :) time zone difference I'm sure or you all really are all night owls writing those books we love to read!

    UK Borders fans -- don't forget our website -- great savings there too!

    I just finished Sabrina's THE TRUTH ABOUT LORD STONEVILLE which is a must read in my book -- onto Connie Brockway's GOLDEN SEASON ---

    sometimes I hate reading the same sub-genre back to back as I'll have a tendency to compare -- but couldn't resist!

  15. Great informative post. I love the Borders blog.

  16. Thanks, Sue. Great post. I do love my local Borders. There are a couple around here I visit regularly. Love the helpful staff, the coffee shop--and it always seems easier there to find interesting new-to-me authors.

  17. Ah it is the time zone difference.
    Because category is readall over the world, PHS has readers all over the world.
    Like most of the UK based readers I was sorry about the UK Borders demise. They were excellent for Romance, a genre that other UK bookstores sometimes overlook -- although they are getting better...

    When I am visiting relations in the US, we always go to Borders and stock up on books...

  18. Hi, Sue! A wonderful interview. I have always loved Category Romance, so many great authors and classic story lines along with some smokin' hot reads : ) Historicals will always be my favorite, but I am truly enjoying the variety and creativity now available in the literary market. See you at "TrueRomance"!

    gcwhiskas at aol dot com

  19. Very interesting post, Sue. I'm always intrigued to see the insider's view of things, and I'm grateful that Borders is such a strong supporter of category romance. Thanks for stopping by!

    All the Waldenbooks in our state are closing this month, and I'm greatly saddened. In my hometown, Waldenbooks was the only true bookstore, and it was a weekly outing for my hubby and me to go there.

    The nearest Borders store is 2 1/2 hours away. While I enjoy going there when I'm traveling, obviously, I can't get there on a regular basis. Shopping in a bookstore environment with knowledgeable staff and an extensive selection of books to browse through and select from is something I'm going to miss.

    Any chance that more Borders stores will be coming now that so many Waldenbooks are closing across the country?


  20. Sue, thanks for the insight. I love my local Borders - great romance section and the category racks are always organized appropriately. They're also very supportive of me as a category writer; in fact, I'm having a book signing at my local Borders in El Segundo, CA this Sunday!

  21. Thanks Julie -- I'm sure as retailers turn in their end of year results there will be lots of real estate for us all to choose from so I'm sure if there is an opportunity to expand we'll consider it.

    Waldenbooks is where I started so it is sad to see the closings . . & sad to see the malls struggling too.

    Economy doesn't seem to be showing much improvement yet.

    Thank God for my romance books & the happy endings :)

  22. Hi Sue -- Borders has always been romance friendly and I appreciate that. I'm happy to see that small town settings are doing well. I do enjoy reading them! I'm also happy to see Desires and Presents are popular, since I write for Desire! It's great to hear your insights today! Thank you!

    Charlene Sands

  23. Thanks for the insights, Sue! I'm glad to hear contemporary is doing well.

  24. Wonderful interview ladies! I read a lot of different sub-genres but historicals will always be my favorite. I think it's probably because the first romance novels I read were historicals.

    And I just started Ecstasy Unveiled and WOW does it start with a bang! LOL

  25. Thanks for such an informative blog!

    My favorite sub-genre is historical, too, although lately I've been delving into sci fi romance -- right at the opposite end of the spectrum.

  26. Since Harlequin series is what you read &/or write -- what are some of the trends you like &/or are told to write about?

  27. Thanks for such an informative interview! Your job sounds too good to be true. *A*

  28. Sue - I tend to get requests for lots of cowboys. Every now and again I go off the ranch, but when I do it's always with a request for meeting my reader promise of heartwarming, emotional stories. Right now I'm writing something different and having a ball, but at the same time staying true to my branding.

    Do you find that Harlequin is more about satisfying a reader brand than perhaps other mainstream publishers?

  29. Donna - that is interesting & I must say the whole Western thing seems to be taking on more national appeal -- Linda Lael with the McKettricks & historical Pieces of Sky by Kiki Warner & Early Dawn with Catherine Anderson -- I think readers are showing more interest in this theme too.

    Harlequin is very concerned about their readers & continue to be on top of their game -- I think they've always been that way. Part of it is that Harlequin is romance & publishes little in other genres. Whereas, editors of other publishers also edit for other genres as well -- sometimes takes away your focus in my opinion.

  30. Heading home for the eve -- if you'd like to contact me I'm at the blog or

    Thanks for having me --- HAPPY ROMANCE!

  31. Hi Sue,
    I wish I had your job. I always have a great time at the Borders blog.

  32. Sue, thanks for the insights. If I wasn't a writer, yours would be my ideal job.

  33. Hi Sue, I know you from the blog. I love contemporary romance so keep bringing them out and thanks.
    It is nice to get an inside chance to learn about your job.