At a breakfast this morning at the 2018 RomanticTimes BookLovers Convention, Kathryn Falk and her husband Ken Rubin announced that they are retiring, and that this year is the last year for the RT Convention. While there had been rumors before the announcement, her words, delivered at the end of a farewell speech that focused on what she would be doing next, were met with gasps and audible shock.
Shortly afterward, the following email went out to RT Subscribers and newsletter members announcing that the convention as well as the RT Magazine online and the RT VIP Lounge would all be closing effective immediately:
Dear Loyal RT Family,
After 37 years of serving the book community with news and reviews, Romantic Times, aka RT Book Reviews, the RT VIP Salon and the RT Booklovers Convention will be retiring effective immediately.
We’ll keep the website live for about a year so that you can still access previous blogs, reviews, award nominees and winners, but there won’t be any new content on the website moving forward. After a year we will take down the website.
Many of you have been with us from the first issue and stood with us throughout the many transitions and transformations we’ve encountered and we thank you all for your loyal support over the years.
I am very proud of what we have accomplished with RT’s magazine, website and the RT Booklovers Convention — and the great service we’ve provided for authors, publishers and readers. I’m proud of the contributions we’ve made within the book industry and proud of our place in the expansion and evolution of the romance genre.
It has truly taken a village to bring you the magazine and conventions over the years, and I want to thank all of our reviewers, the heart of RT — more than 200 over the years! — for your dedication and loyalty to RT and its readers. I especially want to thank our senior reviewers Kathe Robin and Jill Smith whose decades of service and love of books helped shape our industry. And thank you to Melinda Helfer, who passed away in 2000, for her love of romance novels, the authors and her incomparable contribution to RT.
I also want to thank the many editorial teams over the years whose dedication, talent, professionalism and love for the books and authors made it a pleasure (and fun) to work together.
Thank you to my current editorial and web staff Emily Walton, Kristin Stec and Alyssa Duspiva. I especially want to thank Elissa Petruzzi, YA senior editor, web editor and romance expert, who stuck with us through dating, engagement, marriage, two kids and a move out of New York. Now that’s dedication!
Thank you to Jo Carol Jones, and the entire convention team for your dedication to the RT Booklovers Convention — the book lover event of the year. I wish you all the very best in whatever you do. And thank you to our convention coordinator, Tere Michaels, for organizing fantastic workshops, managing agent/editor appointments and so much more.
The reviewers may be heart of RT, but Nancy Collazo, our office manager, is the soul! She has been our “fixer” for many years. She kept the minutia of running the company on track with all of the non-sexy responsibilities no one else knew how to do. THANK YOU NANCY, I will miss you most of all. And thank you to Giselle Hirtenfeld/Goldfeder, our advertising guru and RT Review Source manager for your insight and loyalty to RT throughout the years. Her twins were eight months old when she started and now they are in college! And thank you to Kate Ryan for your friendship, love and dedication to the independent booksellers and librarians. You have made a huge difference in our community!
And a HUGE THANK YOU to our subscribers, followers — our fans — without whom none of this would have been possible.
And last but not least THANK YOU to founder and friend Kathryn Falk for shaping the romance genre with your creative vision, fearless leadership and boundless support of authors. We are all grateful for the memories and the many Romantic Times! It’s been quite a ride!
Publisher & RT Convention Executive
Note that while the email says that the RT site will come down after “a year,” with no specific end date, Kathryn Falk said at the breakfast that the site would come down at the end of this month. My guess is that the site will go dark probably closer to a year from now, but I haven’t received confirmation of the specific date that will occur. (I’ll update if I do.)
No mention was made regarding the new 2019 BookLovers Convention, which will be run by current RT Convention coordinator Jo Carol Jones. BookLovers Con will be held in New Orleans, May 15-19 2019.
The shock was evident in the reactions on Twitter and at the conference. W Falk asked those who had attended very RT Convention over its 37-year history, as well as those who had attended 10+ year, and those who traveled from Australia and the UK to stand to be acknowledged, the reaction here at the convention and online has been a mix of surprise and dismay.
Kathryn Falk the founder of @RT_Magazine & @RT_Convention just announced she’s shutting down RT. 😭 #rt18 “I hope you’ll all start regional conventions and signings with interesting names.” pic.twitter.com/YkVlnaTMzZ
— Cecilia Tan (@ceciliatan) May 16, 2018
Sad @RT_Magazine is closing and that #RT18 will be the last. RT gave me a badly needed boost just when I needed it and I’ll never forget the amazing people who worked there. I wish you all great things!
— Alisha Rai (@AlishaRai) May 16, 2018
After 37 years, RT Book Reviews is closing it’s doors. To say I’m sad would be an understatement. I loved my job & I adore Romancelandia & all its wonderful inhabitants. But I’m excited to begin a new chapter. This isn’t goodbye from me Romancelandia, it’s see you later 😘 #RT18
— Kristin Stec (@KtheKoordinator) May 16, 2018
We wish RT a fond farewell. Today is truly the end of an era. RT Magazine and the RT Convention have uplifted the romance genre for so many years, and we thank them for their service to the romance community. https://t.co/12hCJAgFqN
— RWA (@romancewriters) May 16, 2018
For me, the announcement is a bittersweet. I’m having mixed reactions to selection in this year’s conference schedule, which is frustrating, but since the first RT I attended in Pittsburgh, I’ve looked forward to it. Pittsburgh was particularly memorable because it’s my hometown, and it was the site of probably the worst conference hotel situation I’ve ever encountered. The construction wasn’t done, dust sent many people with asthma to Mercy Hospital, and the hotel was not at all prepared to host the convention – but I had a fantastic and bizarre time. That was back in the days of the Mr. Romance Pageant, which we called the “mangeant.” Ah, memories.
The closing of the magazine as a review publication and a resource for librarians makes me sad, because I know that it means people are losing their jobs, and that people who rely on the publication online to build book shopping lists and acquisition lists will have to find that information elsewhere – and a single resource to collate all the publication announcements will be hard to locate.
I am looking forward to learning more about the BookLovers Convention in 2019, too.
Do you have a favorite RT memory? What’s your reaction to this news?