~ By Chris Bailey

Last Sunday, I settled into a deck chair overlooking a blue lagoon to read a middleweight newspaper, with no interruptions except for the occasional squonk of a territorial heron. I didn’t expect to find a huge bonus—but tucked inside the Baldwin (County, Ala.) Register, I found the local answer to the New York Times Sunday Book Review. Forty pages of News and Views, filled with author interviews, a calendar of signings and other store events, and book reviews by category.

Photo by Dan Therrell, http://beautifulfairhope.com

When I spotted the Chic Lit section, I contacted Karin Wilson. The president of Page and Palette, a third-generation independent bookstore located in the utopia of Fairhope, graciously answered my questions about the oft-reported death of Chick Lit.

Q. We’ve been told that a manuscript should be labeled anything but Chick Lit—because Chick Lit is impossible to sell. What are sales like in your Chic Lit section?

A. I personally buy Chic Lit for my store because my customers buy them. But this genre has really become more literary in the last five years. Women want light fun reads but they also want a well-written story. Because of this, this category has grown for us.

Q. You also have a section of reviews called, “Great for Book Clubs.” What distinguishes Anita Shreve’s Rescue: A Novel,” from Karen White’s Chic Lit-reviewed novel “Falling Home”?

A. This kind of goes back to chic lit becoming more literary. Karen White is a strong seller for us because she writes well. Book Clubs especially want books that are fun to read and also have meat to talk about.

Q. What are the key story elements that signal Chic Lit to you?

A. Believe it or not, the covers distinguish this for the most part! I don’t think it necessarily has to be a story element as much as much as a story we can relate to.

Q. Do you shelve books as Chic Lit, or do those titles mingle with other books?

A. Mingle with other books. We do displays sometimes, especially in the summer for beach reads.

Q. We write Chick, you write chic. Is the difference style or substance?

A. I write chicktion! But in our newsletter and other references I guess we choose Chic because it goes better with Lit.

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Chick Lit fans, what do you think? Do you expect certain characteristics in a Chick Lit read?

NEXT UP: Page and Palette’s Karin Wilson returns with more on independent booksellers.

~ Chris Bailey’s writing for hire has appeared online, in numerous U.S. newspapers and in mailboxes across the U.S. and Canada.