“From talking to readers and fellow booksellers, I believe romance has experienced a rise in readership during the last year and a half because people needed escapism and the guarantee of a happy ending, a story where, no matter what obstacles, they could be safe in the knowledge that everything was going to work out in the end,” says Billie Bloebaum of Third Street Books in McMinnville, Oregon.
“Romance has rules”, notes Kelly Justice, owner of Fountain Bookstore in Richmond. “You can bend those rules, but if you don’t have a happy ending (or a happy now) it’s not a romance. The sheer massive quantity of romance and the emergence of a wider array of voices and representations has meant that we have a romance where almost any reader can see themselves. And that trend is only expanding. And let’s be honest. It’s fun! What was fun about the last 2 years? Not much. Even as things improve, who doesn’t want fun? People came to try a new escape and stayed for the good times and the great community.”
Take a glance at the lineup on the New York Times Best Sellers fiction list and you’ll see romance novels flooding the lists from Christina Lauren’s THE UNHONEYMOONERS (love their books from Simon and Schuster!) to Emily Henry’s PEOPLE WE MEET ON VACATION.
Unit sales for romance topped 47 million in 2021. Romance accounted for 18% of sales, the 2nd most popular fiction genre.
> 51.1 million Americans read romance. Up by 10 million since 1998.
>In 2002 93% of romance readers were women. 1 in 5 women read romance in 2002. 1 in 50 men in the same time period.
>50% of romance readers are married. 34% single. 11% divorced 6% widowed.
>70% are between 25 and 64 years old.
>21% are college graduates. 10% have a post graduate degree.
>A whopping 25% read between 20 and 100 romances per year! (Me and they are free from BookBub!)
>Top 3 character traits readers like in heroines: intelligence, strength of character, attractiveness. Heroes: muscle bound (me not so much), handsomeness, intelligence.