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Arts & Culture

Looking for love? New romance bookstore opens in North Park

A new independent bookstore is opening in North Park, and it’s dedicated entirely to one genre: romance.

Named after the popular trope, Meet Cute is one of only a handful of romance-focused bookstores in the country. Owner Becca Title is a lifelong reader of the genre.

“It’s the best selling genre in the United States. It has been for a very long time,” Title said. “It’s a billion-dollar (per) year industry. I think people really underestimate that about it.”

During the pandemic lockdown, she reflected on her next career steps and decided to quit practicing law to open a small bookstore in San Diego.

Her goal is to create a vibrant space for romance readers to meet and bond over the books they love.

“In a world where you can buy almost anything online, a physical storefront is really a place for communities to gather and that is something that the romance community looks for,” she said.

The store will feature decorative displays which, Title hopes, highlight stories and authors often underrepresented in the genre. Title said she is also looking to direct more attention to these authors through book clubs and events.

“When you have just a general bookstore, we’re all fighting for space on shelves,” said Susan Lee, a local romance author. Her debut novel Seoulmates is set in San Diego and follows two Korean-American leads.

For authors like Lee, specialized stores like Meet Cute are important because romance books can stand front and center instead of competing with other genres. Lee said this creates more opportunity for representation on bookshelves.

“Meet Cute is already committed to really showing off a diverse display and offerings of books, and I’m really excited about that. And I think that’s exactly what we need,” she said.

For a long time, Lee said, people considered romance a guilty pleasure. She believes Meet Cute can help shift that perception as readership grows.

“There is a place for us to stand proud for the books that we read and not apologize for that. And I think if you can do that in a safe space, then we can eventually do that anywhere at any bookstore or library or bus stop,” she said.

And what exactly draws readers to romance?

For Title, it’s all about the promise of a happy ending. Because at its core, romance is about hope, especially in times when that becomes increasingly difficult to find.

“I personally prefer not to be put through the emotional wringer and then end up sad in the end. There’s enough of that for me in the world. So I think it’s a hopeful genre, and I think that’s something that is really valuable especially now,” Title said.

Meet Cute will have its grand opening Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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