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Thursday, December 2, 2010

INDUSTRY: Romance Rocks!

I received my RWA® Romance Writers Report magazine* in the mail the other day. There was a very eye-opening article called 2009 ROMSTATS about how romance fiction sales are holding steady in a weak US economy.

What continues to astound me is the market and selling power of romance fiction. To many non-romance readers some of these facts might astound and even surprise you. Let me quote some facts from the article for you.
  • Book sales increased slightly to $10.274 billion in 2009 as compared to $10.223 billion in 2008 (and this is despite the struggling economy)
  • Romance fiction sales in 2009 were $1.36 billion as compared to $1.37 billion in 2008
Those figures defy comprehension, don't they? And think about just how many (US) consumers enjoy reading romance fiction. Holy love stories, Batman!

Let's break it down further to genres of fiction in 2009. (Source: Simba Information)
  • Romance fiction: $1.360 billion
  • Religion/inspirational: $770 million
  • Mystery: $674 million
  • Science Fiction/Fantasy: $554 million
  • Classic Literary Fiction: $462 million
Romance fiction outstrips any other genre with the largest share of the consumer market at 13.2%. That's all good for romance writers, eh?

And now, let's check out the Romance Subgenres published in 2009 (of the romance releases tracked by RWA® in 2009).
  • Contemporary (series) 22.83%
  • Contemporary 18.55%
  • Paranormal 17.16%
  • Historical 15.66%
  • Romantic Suspense 9.45%
  • Inspirational 7.56%
  • Romantic Suspense (series) 4.28%
  • Young Adult 2.28%
  • Other (erotic & chick lit) 2.21%
The article went on to say that romance fiction dominated the best-seller lists such as the NY Times, USA Today and Publishers Weekly and that romance fiction ranked as second only to movie tie-in books on the best-sellers lists.

The top 10 romance imprints on the best-sellers lists in 2009 were:
  1. Mira
  2. Berkley
  3. Avon
  4. Little Brown
  5. Pocket
  6. Dell
  7. Grand Central
  8. HQN
  9. Ballantine
  10. Zebra
The top performing romance sub-genres included history, suspense, fantasy and horror titles, while some of the biggest challenges to the romance fiction industry were quoted as being - competition from other entertainment sources, book piracy, book selling into non-bookstores and online retailers and the perceived value of a book.

These figures all indicate continued good news for romance writers. It seems the appeal of a good love story, no matter the sub-genre, is a great form of entertainment and is valued by a huge readership market.

Romance rocks!

Reference material and statistics taken from:
* RWR magazine (November 2010, Vol.30 No.11) published by the Romance Writers of America® - The Voice of Romance Fiction


  1. Thanks for the great stats, Kylie. It's always nice to know we've chosen a great medium for our story-telling. But it's even nicer to think we're providing what the consumers NEED -- a little romance in a bad economy.

    Who needs reality?
    >>big grin<<

  2. I agree with you, Angi! I can't think of a better way to escape reality for a few hours than within the pages of a great romance. :-)

  3. Who could argue with those stats? For a world of people who say "I don't read those books"---a whole lot of them are being sold! ;)

    Love the romantic variety of choice, don't you?

  4. Great stats to drag out when someone is disparaging romance authors and their books. :-)