The feature is called Can chick lit teach you about money? and it is all about the “growing category of personal finance ‘chick lit'”. As it turns out, this isn’t a new fiction genre providing the frugal antidote to the Shopaholic books. (Although that would be fun, no?) Apparently this is now the favoured description for personal finance books aimed at women: publishers have decided to give them more “shelf appeal” by slapping on those tried-and-tested pink chick lit covers, with pictures of shoes and stuff.
Take a look at the retina-stinging array of books mentioned in the feature, and you’ll see what I mean. They include Shoo, Jimmy Choo, which I read and liked; I haven’t read the others (yet).
Anyway, here’s the bit where I come in (woop woop):
Katherine Orr, Harlequin’s vice-president of public relations, says the recession and a still-recovering economy has made women nervous…The recession spawned a cottage industry of personal finance blogs aimed at women announcing their brave switches from designer labels to thrift-store finds. Before The Frugalista Files, there was Miss Thrifty and The Recessionista, to name a couple.
Now, in the wake of that endless sea of women-friendly advice blogs, come the book publishers.
“You just don’t know the source [on blogs]. There’s so much citizen journalism out there,” Ms. Orr explains. “I think people turn to brands like Harlequin because they trust them.”
Ah, it’s nice to get a wee shout-out… wait, what’s with the past tense? And this blog is a “cottage industry”?
I get you. Mary Hall of The Recessionista and I, we are the Silas Marners of personal finance-themed literary production, weaving odds and sods on our humble looms. The publishers are the big boys running the mills, I suppose. I don’t mind that description, actually…
However it does seem a shame that the publisher’s spokeswoman felt the need to give personal finance blogs a kick. Blogs, like books, vary in quality. But that stuff about not knowing the “source” sounds like rubbish: I can’t think of a popular personal finance blog that doesn’t draw heavily upon the writer’s personal experiences. Most of them do so over a number of years. At the same time, I have seen books about thriftiness churned out by authors whose previous literary oeuvres had (before frugality was fashionable) focused upon shopping, extravagance and conspicuous consumption.
Also, the reporter conveniently ignores the fact that The Frugalista Files, one of the books covered at length in this piece, started life as a blog. I guess that fly in the ointment is best left unmentioned.
Harlequin, that trusted brand for personal finance literature, rang a bell but I couldn’t think why. So I looked it up.
It’s Mills & Boon!