While genre may be a cut-and-dry thing for some, it is not for us, nor is it so simple for the books that we curate for The Attic Box. Because of the nature of the subscription box we operate (read: secondhand books), we gather used books from all genres, all eras, and all walks of life. What this typically means is that the genre classifications may be a bit hazy.
Those of us who are old enough will remember when TV and movie ratings were lax (circa 1980s). Hearing a few choice curse words and seeing a pair of naked breasts usually meant that you and the family were piled in the living room watching a PG (or, at most PG-13) movie. You may also remember how the ratings system started tightening those apron strings and what was once PG is now nearing an R rating.
So it is with genres.
Genre classifications have morphed through the decades, especially with the explosion of a myriad of cross-genre pieces that now saturate the market. There aren't many authors who can sit confidently in one --and only one-- genre section anymore. Even James Patterson, a revered favorite among many readers, has broken into the Young Adult scene with a series that is obviously different from the murder mystery/crime/thriller novels which the majority of his fan base adores.
The genre-crossing makes it difficult to place books absolutely in one genre, especially those books that may have been indie-published. When a subscriber selects Fantasy as a beloved genre and Sci-Fi as a disliked genre on the Reading Preferences questionnaire, there is a chance that the subscriber may receive a book that has both elements in it. Perhaps the Fantasy element is stronger and, therefore, may land it more sensibly in the Fantasy section. However, even a smidge of Sci-Fi, to some, classifies a book as wholly Sci-Fi.
You can see where this gets difficult.
So, here's what we do:
1. We check the preferences lists on the invoice. We make note of the "disliked" genres.
2. If a multi-month subscriber, we check the list of books that have previously been shipped and try our best not to duplicate anything. We are human, though, and duplicates (albeit rare) have slipped through.
3. A book is chosen (by Jeremy-- he's the Book Whisperer) based mainly on "feeling" and a one-ness with the universe. Seriously, this is the "hand-picked" method.
Sometimes the universe is taking a coffee break and when this happens, subscribers receive books that hold no interest. It happens. Even when we, as readers, peruse book sales and pick up a few books that look interesting, we may decide at about ten pages in that this book may not be for me. THAT'S OKAY. No hard feelings. Our intuition can't always be right. If this happens, reach out to us and we will adjust your preferences to be more closely aligned with what you prefer. We can't guarantee that you're going to love the books you get. We certainly hope you love each and every one you receive, but there's no guarantee that you will.
The Attic Box is about DISCOVERY, and to discover something, the something (in this case, books) has to be A) a surprise, and B) undiscovered. We created this subscription box to give people a chance to discover books and authors who may otherwise sit in the dusty recesses of the book store. Sometimes we happen upon absolute gems and we are more than happy to share those with our subscribers.
I hope that I've given you all a little insight into how our process works. Do you have strong feelings about genre definitions? What about TV ratings and how those have changed over the years? Come, grab a cup of your favorite beverage and let's converse. Comments on the subject are always welcome.
Candice loves books so much that she's currently devising plans for an Olympic-sized swimming pool filled with books in which she can "swim" every day.
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