Genre is a sticky topic. I wish that as a society we could largely ignore the genre titles and simply base a decision of interest off the premise rather than the indication of genre. However, I don’ think that will every happen as people like to compartmentalize everything they possibly can.
There is some merit to the use of genres. For the most part, it provides a way for people to identify things that they may have an interest in. However, I see more people using genre as a way to identify the things they believe they will have no interest in. I am culprit of this as well. Genre has given people a reason to tune out something that ma otherwise interest them if that label had not been there.
Yet, stripping the genre will cause it to be lost in a shuffle of many books and never finding its audience. Pretty much in order for something to be a success, it must be constrained to a genre title. For many titles, this determination is rather straight forward. That isn’t the case for the other titles that straddle genres and run the risk of not being properly grouped.
So what can be done to ensure that a piece that straddles two genres is properly categorized? First of you probably noticed that I constrained this to two genres. I believe, and I’m sure many will disagree, that while a story can have elements of multiple genres, only two can be the most prominent fighting for attention. Either a third genre may be present, but massively diminished content wise, or the story is pulled too far out of focus for any genre. In the latter case, the story may be treading on an entirely new genre, but certainly falls out of the range of easy categorization.
As for a piece that straddles two genres, it becomes easier in the age of technology where so much is digital with metadata attached. Simply, tag the piece as falling under multiple genres; advertise in both places. It is the brick and mortar locations that force the further distinction. A brick and mortar store can’t shelf a product in multiple locations. It has to make a decision. While a store could mash all genres together and then have a directory with something listed in multiple spots it would become cumbersome for a patron. The current system is the best system at the moment for the stores and people.
I wonder if the flow of pieces that cross multiple genres will help dampen the disdain held between various followers of different genres.