Ratings on books (see Jordan taking about the March RWR article by agent Ethan Ellenberg) is an issue I’m still on the fence about. When it comes to movies and video games, I’m a parent–I’m all for them. But for romance novels? Unless they’re marked YA, they’re for grown-ups, right?
And isn’t it one more division in a genre growing more divided by the day? One more classification a reader can apply to “I only read…”
Then again, as pointed out by Mr. Ellenberg in his article, surprising a reader–possibly offending her– isn’t a good idea, either. There’s been talk of Walmart, and their policing of America’s values. I can’t buy Bravas at my local Walmart. Cetainly not Ellora’s Cave novels. (Although I can pluck Angela Knight from next to the Mary-Kate and Ashley books.)
I bought The Bane Affair and Wicked Women On Top from Walmart.com. Would another reader be surprised–even offended–by them? I don’t know. I’m all for hot sex on the page, so I can’t put myself in the shoes of readers who like their romances more tame.
I still can’t see books with the equivalent of the MPAA’s movie rating system on the spine:
NG–This books contains no genitalia.
TS–This book contains throbbing shafts
C–This book contains c-cks.
Anyway, perhaps a blurb along the bottom of the back cover–This book contains scenes of a sexual nature and This book contains scenes of an explicitly sexual nature. Readers might find it helpful, but I don’t know about retailers.
I can’t argue with any of the comments Mr. Ellenberg made in his article. They’re all valid points. But I just can’t see any practical way to implement an industry-wide rating system.