The November edition of the RWR has the latest romance reading stats. I found them interesting.
Romance had 26.4% share of all market categories. It was only surpassed by the religion/inspirational category. Romance fiction sales were $1,370 million compared to Mystery sales of $422 million or Sci fi sales of $495 million. You do the math. In my view the basic reason why so much more advertising is spent on mystery etc is that far fewer mystery books are published as opposed to the 6,400 titles of romance that were published.
In the new technology of ebooks, the trend continues. According to Peter Wayner writing in the New York Times last August, early ebook lists were dominated by sci fi and other genres favoured by men, but now the lists showed romance and women's fiction were coming to dominate. This fact should not surprise anyone as according an AP/IPOS poll, women read more than men -- nearly twice as much. On average women read nine books per year while men only manage five. Women are also more likely to read every major category of books. And of people who read books, one in five reads romance novels.
As a general rule of thumb, men are more likely to be early adopters of technology. The shift in the ebook lists could be interpreted to mean that ebooks are here to stay. BUT the amount spent on ebook, despite doubling in 2006 remains tiny at $24 million. Print is not dead yet.
The leading sub genres of Romance appearing on the best seller lists were suspense, historical and paranormal. Harlequin remains the top Romance book publisher, according to Simba estimates. The leading US romance novelists were Nora Roberts, Sandra Brown, Catherine Coulter and Debbie Macomber. All of whom started out by writing category. I think they were all with Sil, Debbie Macomber is the one I have a question about as I can't think of which line she wrote for. Super? Nora Roberts and Sandra Brown were SR and Catherine Coulter was SIM. Shades of my college free time reading...
If you look at romance books published -- 40% were series romance. 17% historical single title, 16 percent were contemporary. Paranormal accounted for 9%. This shows the massive increase in the paranormal romance market in recent years as not so very long ago it was under 5% of books published. The big unanswered question is how large is the paranormal market and has it peaked.
For 2007, sales of romance fiction are expected to hold steady. The projected increase in book sales (2.6%) is down to the last book of Harry Potter hitting the stands.
Anyway, I thought it very interesting.