I read a comment in a blog the other day that advised writers to read outside their genre and made the comment that romance readers were more like to read Harlan Corben than visa versa (or was it the other way around?) Either way, I was a little offended. I read both (love Harlan & I've read every one of his books) and I realized that to categorize a reader is just ludicrous. I'm not a "romance reader" or a "Harlan Corben reader." That would be like saying, "I'm a corn-flakes-box reader." I'm a reader.
It seems silly to me to put readers in a box. You've got "romance readers" over here and Harlan Corben readers over there, segregating them as though they can only be one thing. Today I may be a romance reader, tomorrow it may be science fiction, the day Harlan's new book comes out, I will be a Harlan Corben reader (I'm rabid about his books.) The day after it may be Frank Turner Hollon. Or Dean Koontz. Or Barbara Hambly. Or Milton Friedman. (all of these authors have books on my keeper shelf.) And I think that when someone says it's a stretch for a Harlan Corben reader to pick up a Jennifer Crusie, they've bought into the propaganda that romance isn't as "smart" as other genres. Too many people already look down on romance, just as they looked down on SF&F in the 30s and 40s because so much pulp was published. It took SF&F a long time to live down that reputation, and I think when those within the romance genre perpetuate the image that readers of more complex, "smarter" books won't stoop low enough to read a romance it does a disservice to the genre.