Checking In With...Toni Bruner:

Toni Bruner thinks romance novels deserve a second chance. For more than two decades, she has been the director of New & Recycled Romances Bookstore in Costa Mesa.

Since then, her collection of romance novels has outgrown two buildings. Although most of her books are pre-owned, she isn’t opposed to selling new books, too.

This week, we’re checking in to ask her a few questions.

How did you get into the business of selling romance novels?

Twenty-two years ago, my friend gave me 1,500 books she got from a garage sale, and I had about 1,000 myself. I opened up this store because I didn’t know what to do with them. We have gone from a small store to two bigger stores.

What are your most popular book selections?

Susan Elizabeth Philips and Nora Roberts are a couple of our most popular authors.

What is your personal favorite romance novel? Who is your favorite author?

Linda Howard is my favorite author; she writes romantic suspense. My favorite book by her is called “Mr. Perfect.”

How have romance novels changed over the years?

We have come a long way from the novels Barbara Cartland (the famous romance novelist and step-grandmother of Princess Diana).

Who would make a better protagonist in a romance novel: Johnny Depp or Brad Pitt?

Brad Pitt would be the better protagonist. Johnny Depp plays bizarre characters, while Brad Pitt plays more direct, straight-laced roles.

Do you think romance novels generally transfer well to the big screen?

Yes, I do think so. My favorite romance novel to go to the big screen is called “Somewhere in Time.”

Do you do any writing yourself?

No, all I do is synopsis, because people walk in, and I have to help them find them a story — I actually read the stuff I sell. We also have our customers pre-read the new releases before we sell them. We are very selective of the new releases we sell.

Many business have been struggling in this turbulent economy. How has your shop been holding up?

Unfortunately, the trade of used book-selling is becoming a dying art. One used bookstore just closed down in Huntington Beach last month. But we’re doing OK, because many unemployed people come to us for a book when they get tired of searching for jobs on their computers.

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