Not this year. This year I have bought not one, but two. Both comics-related. Geeks are well served at the book festival it seems. But Romance readers? Forget it.
The first hint was in the categories. There are a wide array of categories and they're not all high-brow and genre-averse. There is Crime Fiction. Comics. Science. Religion. Biography. Feminism. I could go on. Suffice to say there are a wide array of authors, genres and categories represented.
Except for Romance.
I decided it was possible I was being unfair. After all hit erotic romance Fifty Shades of Grey is the UK's bestselling book of all time. Maybe, I thought, romance has hit the mainstream. Maybe its wrapped up under the category "Fiction" and doesn't need a home of its own.
So I searched for "Romance" in the freebox search.
Nothing. Nada. Romance, it seems, isn't literature.
Now correct me if I'm wrong, but whilst the world is jumping on the e-book wagon it is romance and its sword-clad bed fellows fantasy and science fiction which are driving sales. Scotland has romance authors (here's looking at YOU Aimee Duffy), just as it has comic book authors. Why is the one represented and the other not? Would no one be interested in seeing a panel of romance authors debate? Or to hear how a hero is constructed?
No one? Really?
Or would we be embarrassed? Furtively slipping into the back row with scarves pulled up around our faces?
A couple of years ago I was invited to a book swap. It was to be all female. A gathering of women who met up, drank wine and gossiped over books. I scanned my shelves to find something suitable. Some Stieg Larsson maybe? Or Sebastian Faulks? Something.... respectable.
In the end I thought, sod it. Lift your head up high. Take an example of what you really want to read when you come home knackered from work and pour the bath. I'm sure they'll appreciate a bit of Eloisa James or a Jo Beverley. Who wouldn't?
Cue some nervous titters. Some shifts on the seat. No one wanted to admit that they read romance (though I knew for a fact some did). I might as well have offered them a sexually transmitted disease.
No wonder e-books sales are soaring. When people mutter about "bodice-rippers" and "low brow" and tuck their kindles and nooks neatly into cover where they can get stuck into the latest Harlequin without anyone being able to clock the Fabio-wannabe or tell-tale purple spine.
The covers have a lot to answer for. Compare and contrast these two Loretta Chase covers. Which would you want to be seen reading on the bus?
Why is it that when people talk about romance they don't talk about it's enduring, centuries-long appeal? Or it's versatility? Or the fact it holds a mirror up to society and changes with the times? Why, when we discuss it's popularity, is it in negative terms? What is it about our love of romance that we despise?
So here's my plea to YOU, gentle readers. Hold your head up high. You read one of the oldest, most versatile genres in the world. And you're not alone in that. Romance and erotica tipped $1 billion in sales last year. We're big business baby. Let's not be afraid of that.
And if anyone wants to hear more, I'll be available to debate with you at the Edinburgh International Book Festival next year.
PS If you're struggling with owning your romance habit, check out the "Romance and Feminism: happy bedfellows?" blog post