I don't think it's any big secret that everybody craves respect. And like most people, romance writers want their work to be treated with respect, too. So it naturally follows that one sure way to upset a romance author is to call her work garbage. Unworthy of a reader's time. Unworthy of respect.
There are a few theories about why romance in particular is treated in this way. I do think it's in part because it's mostly written by women for women. It's the same root cause that has resulted in teachers and nurses and other "female dominated" professions being underpaid and undervalued, too.
I find the patronizing attitude of some critics particularly galling. For instance, did you know that women who read romance apparently can't tell the fiction section from the "how-to" section in a bookstore? That the poor little dears don't understand that they're reading stories, not relationship guides?
I've never heard anybody make that claim about men and what they read. Nobody ever seems to suggest guys read Tom Clancy because they think that one day, they're going to get a tap on the shoulder and find a guy in a balaclava whispering, "Hey, buddy, we're short a man for a covert op. How 'bout it?"
I think a lot of the conflict among those who are electronically published and those who are "print" published comes about because epublished people feel their work is not respected. That people consider it "lesser" because it's not in the traditional form.
That attitude hurts, and puts folks on the defensive. I know that feeling, because
Harlequin Historicals have been treated as "lesser" by many people -- as if I didn't do the same amount of work and worrying over them as I did (and do) over my single title books.
Let me tell ya, I sure did. And I have never, ever heard an HH author say, or even imply, that they put less effort into a "category" book than they would if it were single title. All the authors I know do their very best, with every single book or novella.
So I do understand why epubbed authors might seem overly sensitive when it comes their work. They want respect, because they've worked hard. They want recognition of that work, and it's merit.
Do I think they "deserve" that recognition? Are epublished books "as good as" print books?
Who cares what I think? If a story is good and has merit, it will find a readership. If it doesn't, it won't. As with any work of fiction, that's what really counts, not what another author or critic says.