1. a. A love affair.
b. Ardent emotional attachment or involvement between people; love:
2. A mysterious or fascinating quality or appeal, as of something adventurous, heroic, or strangely beautiful:
3. a. A long medieval narrative in prose or verse that tells of the adventures and heroic exploits of chivalric heroes
b. A long fictitious tale of heroes and extraordinary or mysterious events, usually set in a distant time or place.
4. An artistic work, such as a novel, story, or film that deals with sexual love, especially in an idealized form.
Such is the dictionary definition of Romance. In real life it’s a love story. Two people meeting, falling in love, and trying hard for happily-ever-after while overcoming misunderstandings, hardships, secret babies, kidnappers, or just plain old stubbornness.
And who reads Romance novels. Just about every-frigging-body. Well not so much men – maybe. But men make up 9% of the Romance reading public. And since approximately 75 million people read Romance every year, that’s a male readership of 6,750,000. Wow – guys – I’m proud of ya. But if you are female, over the age of 16, and can read above an 8th grade level – you have read Romance – whether or not you admit it.
And just who is the average Romance reader? Well, that would be a woman between the ages of 30 and 54 making between $50,000 and $99,900 per year. She would likely be from the South. Half of Romance readers live with a spouse or partner. Forty-four percent of Romance book buyers consider themselves “frequent readers” (read quite a few romances); 31 percent are “avid readers” (almost always reading a romance novel); and 25 percent are “occasional readers” (on and off, like when on vacation). Forty one percent of Romance book buyers have been reading Romance for 20 years or more. (Statistics from Bowker® Market Research, Q2 2012, New Books Purchased and RWA’s 2012 Romance Book Consumer survey.)
And that’s just readership. What about sales you ask? Well yes, I have the answer to that. Romance fiction generated $1.438 billion in sales in 2012 and is 2013 sales are estimated at $1.350 billion. No really. That’s BILLION, actually closing in on one and a half billion dollars – a year! (source: Business of Consumer Book Publishing 2013)
Here’s how Romance stacked up against other reading material: (source: Simba Information estimates)
Romance fiction: $1.438 billion in estimated revenue for 2012
Religion/inspirational: $717.9 million
Mystery: $728.2 million
Science fiction/fantasy: $590.2 million
Classic literary fiction: $470.5 million
Romance beat out the next best selling category (Religion) by slightly more than double. And that’s just sales of NEW books. These statistics don’t take into account people who pass their Romance novels around to family, friends, and neighbors. Nor does it account for all of us who haunt thrift stores and buy Romances by the bagful for 50 cents apiece.
And here’s a few more statistics for you:
Romance fiction was the largest share of the U.S. consumer market in 2012 at 16.7 percent. (source: Business of Consumer Book Publishing 2013)
Romance was the top-performing category on the best-seller lists in 2012 (across the NYT, USA Today, and PW best-seller lists).
Forty four percent of readers are reading in an e-book format. But the rest of us still prefer a good old fashioned book we can hold and flip through the pages. You know. To go back and read the good parts. The really good parts. The really, really good parts. (Statistics from Bowker Market Research, Q1 2012, New Books Purchased)
Besides…who could resist reading a Romance when you know the hero looks like this…