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A Profitable Affair: Opportunities for Publishers in the Romance Book Market

2 minute read | July 2016

With its handsome sales figures, ardent digital audience and swelling new sub-genres, today’s Romance book market presents an alluring opportunity for publishers.

According to Nielsen data, the romance market is big and strapping across both traditional and emerging formats: The most popular romance title in print last year, E.L. James’ Grey, alone sold 1.9 million units. More than 44 million print and 28 million electronic Romance books were sold in 2015.

The Romance genre accounted for nearly 20% of all e-book sales in the U.S. in 2015, making it the most digitally driven literary genre. Amazon was the top retailer of Romance e-books, and the median digital title cost about $5, a lower price point that a typical printed adult fiction title.

The relatively low cost and easy accessibility of e-books, combined with an increasingly younger fan base, appears to suggest that Romance readers are especially open to trying new titles and niches within the genre.

So what does this digital-savvy, adventurous audience like to read? Driven in part by the success of the Fifty Shades series, erotica has posted steady double-digit (10%) year-over-year sales growth since 2014, while suspense titles (16%) have also seen consistent gains over the past three years.

The biggest increases in sales since 2014 have occurred in sub-genres that haven’t typically been part of the Romance mainstream. Romantic comedy sales grew by 357% over the past three years and science fiction romance grew sales by 336%.

Books that cater to diverse audiences have also seen impressive increases: sales of LGBT Romances rose by 225% year-over-year, and multicultural and interracial sales jumped by 123%.

Two classic niches have also fared very well over the past three years: Goth Romances have seen sales growth of 54% and Western Romances have increased their sales by 52%.

Interested in learning more about Romance readers? Join us at the Nielsen Romance Book Summit, which will be held at this year’s annual Romance Writers of America Annual Conference in San Diego on July 14, 2016.

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