SAN DIEGO – Independent bookshops have started to make a comeback in recent years with new stores popping up all over the country. That includes one that recently opened in San Diego dedicated entirely to a single genre: romance.
Named after the popular troupe, Meet Cute Bookshop, located in North Park on 30th Street, is the first and only romance-centered bookstore in San Diego, bringing the world of romance to both avid readers of the genre and newcomers alike.
Owner Becca Title opened the store in September of last year. A former lawyer, she transitioned to book-selling during the pandemic, after she started to experience burn-out in her career.
“I have always sort of played with the idea of opening a small business,” Title said to FOX5SanDiego.com. “I like the idea of having a little bit of space that I can invite people into and create community around.”
As a life-long fan of romance, she decided to open up Meet Cute to create a place for other people who love the genre, or people who might be curious about it, to come together and find new books to love.
“I’ve never been very cool and I’ve never been very concerned that romance was not cool, but it really has grown and changed so much over the years,” Title said.
TikTok has been one of the main contributors to that change, as “BookTok” — which is dominated by romance book recommendations — has reinvigorated reading as a favorite pastime.
“Because of lockdown and the number of people who were just alone in their houses, people have really started reading,” Title said. “I get customers all the time who say they weren’t big readers, but they started reading during the pandemic, particularly romance, and now they’re voracious readers.”
While BookTok has made bestsellers out of a handful of romance books, Meet Cute strives to build on that momentum by highlighting authors and storylines that are often underrepresented in the genre, particularly stories with or written by queer folks or people of color.
“We’re only one small bookstore, but we’re definitely doing what we can in terms of making sure that we read widely and are aware of authors who are writing – even indie publishing – in the genre who might not be getting front page headlines,” she said.
One of the ways that Title strives to do just that is by hosting events highlighting authors of all kinds both in-person and virtually, allowing romance lovers to connect with new works all while making new friends who enjoy the same things.
“I was always hoping to be able to host author events, to create a space for readers to connect and sort of talk about all the things that they love,” Title said. “Making friends as an adult can be hard and I think there are just a lot of people who want to find people that have similar interests to them.”
Author events are just one way that Meet Cute hopes to facilitate just that.
Title, who is queer herself, also hosts events — such as a book club and speed-dating — that center LGBTQ+ folks, giving those who might be uncomfortable going to traditional queer spaces like bars, the opportunity to mingle with people who share a love for reading.
“Creating queer community is something that – much like making friends as an adult for anyone – can be hard to do, especially if you’re not drawn to a lot of the places where queer communities usually grow,” she said. “If you’re a queer introvert, queer book club or queer speed dating at a bookstore might be a little bit more your speed.”
With all the things that Meet Cute has to offer, Title hopes that her bookshop allows anyone who is interested in romance to give it a chance.
“Romance as a genre is a really big tent,” Title said. “It’s a really warm, welcoming, fun, hopeful place, which is something that I think a lot of people are really looking for these days.”
“We just want to find you a book you love,” she continued. “I love recommending books and trying to figure out what kind of book you’re looking for, because I really believe that there is a book in our store for everybody.”