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While the erudite have derided the best-selling books as poorly written and unimaginative, fans of the soft porn/romance novels don't care about sentence structure, believable dialogue or character development. Not everybody wants a daily dose of Dickens or the latest Robert Caro book on LBJ.
"This stuff we consider 'bad' is considered bad if we look at it in terms of the criteria set for old-fashioned art," says pop culture expert Robert Thompson of Syracuse University. "We also have to recognize that some of this stuff that is 'bad' is really good at being 'bad.' Therefore the word 'bad' kind of ceases to have any kind of meaning."