Over at SF Novelists, there's a really interesting blog by Jackie Kessler about what happens when you discover that cool novel everyone is talking about is shelved in the (*gasp*) romance section called You Shelved it... Where?
I wrote a comment (actually my alter ego did) amounting to the fact that I understand why someone might have felt embarrassed to go into the romance section years ago, but I don't get it any more. I was just at my hometown B&N last weekend standing in the romance section looking at books. There was a surprising amount of erotica with some fairly racy covers, but they're not the kinds of covers that used to make me cringe -- you know the ones with, well, Fabio looking down some babe's cleavage. Now there's a lot more photographic covers (some that still make me blush, but in a TOTALLY different way, see the cover for VAMPIRE QUEEN'S SERVANT I posted here... yowch! HOT!!!) and the cartoonish, stylized ones like the ones I've got.
Plus, I think that a lot of what she's talking about comes from the fact that people like to have someone to look down on, and for a lot of my SF/F friends, that's romance. It's peer pressure based on misinformation. Romance gets the big dis because people still think writers are writing to a formula and that all the heroines are wall-flowers in pink sundresses waiting for a man to make it all right. Anyone whose read romance in the last decade knows better than that.
Romance is where some of the best writing is happening right now. I say, go to that section with pride, sister!