SAN DIEGO — A bookstore dedicated exclusively to the romance genre is open in San Diego, bringing diversity and inclusion to the community.

Flip through any of the covers at Meet Cute Romance Bookshop to find any flavor of romance imaginable.

What You Need To Know

  • Meet Cute is San Diego’s first and only romance book store

  • The shop features books by BIPOC and queer authors, about BIPOC and queer characters

  • Romance novels were the highest-earning genre of fiction in 2022

  • LGBTQ romance books more than doubled their sales in 2020

Owner Becca Title has dedicated her shelves to love stories, naming her shop after the popular trope.

“A ‘meet-cute’ is the scene where the characters who are going to be in a relationship meet for the first time, usually in a charming or embarrassing or just fun way,” she said.  

A former lawyer and an avid reader of romance books, Title followed her dream of opening San Diego’s first and only romance book store. Beyond bringing the fast-growing genre to seasoned readers and newcomers alike, she is making space for diverse love stories.

As part of the queer community, Title has filled her shop with colorful book descriptions like “Forbidden/second chance romance (and it’s gay)” to helpful comparisons such as “If you like Great British Bake Off.”

“We make an effort to feature books by BIPOC authors, queer authors, about BIPOC and queer characters,” she said. “It behooves everyone to read widely, and also, there are so many wonderful stories that you’re missing out on if you’re only looking at the books that are making a New York Times list, for example.”

Author Susan Lee wrote the book “Seoulmates,” a childhood friends-to-lovers romance set in San Diego where she grew up.

“It was lots of little Easter eggs for people who have lived here,” Lee said with a laugh. “We talk about the California burrito. We talk about Mount Soledad and what happens there at night.”

Lee said she used her personal experience growing up as a Korean American and grappling with her heritage and identity as inspiration for the book. It was important to her that not only the story represent Korean Americans, but that they were also front and center on the cover.

“I grew up not reading because I did not see myself in books,” she said. “Even contemporary books felt like fantasy books to me. I was not the girl that was going to date the high school quarterback, you know? And so there weren’t stories for me to read.”

Lee hopes more people take an interest in reading all kinds of romance literature and believes places like Meet Cute help showcase the beauty of different cultures and sexualities.

“Whenever I talk about Meet Cute, I talk about it as both a home and a haven,” she said. “And what Becca and her team have been able to do is show that ‘happily ever after’ takes on so many forms and a place where romance readers new and old can come in and be exposed to so many different kinds of stories.”

According to Wordsrated, Romance novels generated more than $1.44 billion in revenue in 2022, making romance the highest-earning genre of fiction. 

According to NPD BookScan, which tracks the sales of most printed books sold in the U.S., about 850,000 LGBTQ romance books sold at traditional retail outlets in 2021 — a 740% increase over a five-year period and more than double the number sold in 2020.

For many readers, the draw of romance is the promise of a happy ending. Title hopes she can play the role of matchmaker, leading readers to the stories that will make their lives better.

“It gives me so much joy when people come in and ask for recommendations for something that is just so niche, and we have a bunch of options for that for them,” she said. “It could not make me happier.”

Title also hosts monthly queer book clubs, in-person and virtual author events and hosts a podcast called The Meet Cute BookPod.

Meet Cute is currently hosting its second Romance for Reproductive Justice auction to raise money to help reduce barriers to abortion access in communities where access is limited.