A Peek Inside 'The Ripped Bodice,' America's First All-Romance Bookstore

Illustration for article titled A Peek Inside 'The Ripped Bodice,' America's First All-Romance Bookstore

Back in November, sisters Bea and Leah Koch raised $91,187 on Kickstarter to launch America’s first bookstore dedicated to romance novels. Clearly they are an organized pair, because it’s already been up and running a month.


Writing for Racked, Lindsey Weber stopped by the store—in downtown Culver City, California—and took a look inside.

It’s a unique spot. Weber points out the closest all-romance competitor is all the way over in Canberra City, Australia, and romance readers who want to shop at indies rather than Barnes and Noble have long faced an uphill battle. Friendly stores like Brooklyn’s WORD are few and far between. There’s Boonsboro, Maryland’s Turn the Page—which is owned by Nora Roberts’ husband and certainly doesn’t shy away from selling romance and does major romance signings—but it’s not totally dedicated to the genre. Often, the closest you can get is a really cavernous used bookstore with a generous selection of paperbacks.

Weber found the pair—who’ve been reading romance since they were 12—ready and willing to make recommendations, whether it be “Romance 101” starter kits or more specific requests: “If you want to read a book about threesomes, I want to give you the greatest book about threesomes we have,” said Leah Koch. And author Courtney Milan testified to the breadth of their selection: “They actually made a concerted effort to reach out to the community of independent authors and talk about how they could get their books in the store, and which ones they should be ordering.”

Naturally, they get a few male rubberneckers:

“We certainly get guys in here who are not into it,” says Leah. “But [some] men come in here and are like, “What is this, really?” She reminds Bea about the guy who came in the store the other day, she guesses he was about 22 years old, who said to her: “This is a big store. Do you really think that you should have a store this big, just devoted to romance?” To which she responded, “How many comic book stores are there in the United States?” He answered, “Oh, good point.”


Photo via Kickstarter.

Senior Editor at Jezebel, specializing in books, royals, romance novels, houses, history, and the stories we tell about domesticity and femininity. Resident Windsor expert.



Can anyone recommend a good place to start w/reading this genre? I tend to stick to sci fi. Margaret Atwood is probably the closest I’ve gotten so far. I'm curious!