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Romance Writers of America®
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Industry Statistics / Author Statistics / Romance Statistics (PDF)

Reader Statistics

Number of Romance Readers

64.6 million Americans read at least one romance novel in the past year.

2002: 51.1 million readers in America

1998: 41 million readers in America

Geography of Romance Readers

29% of the Southern population reads romance

27% of the Western population reads romance

26% of the Midwest population reads romance

12.6% of the Northeast population reads romance

Gender of Romance Readers

78% of romance readers are female

22% of romance readers are male (a significant increase from the 2002 survey that showed only 7% of readers were male.)

Marital Status of Romance Readers

50% of romance readers are married

37 % of romance readers are single

8% of romance readers are widowed

4% of romance readers are divorced

1% of romance readers are separated

Age of Romance Readers

22% are between the ages of 35-44

19% are between the ages of 25-34

18% are between the ages of 45-54

11% are between the ages of 55-64

9% are between the ages of 18-24

8% are 75 and older

6% are between the ages of 14-17

6% are between the ages of 65-74

1% are 13 or younger

Education Level of Romance Readers

42% have a bachelor’s degree or higher …

27% have college degrees

15% have post-graduate work or degrees

7% have associate degrees

17% have attended a trade school or have some college

23% have high school diplomas

Number of Romance Novels Read By Romance Readers in the Past Year

54% have read between 1 and 5 books

17% have read between 6 and 10 books

14% have read between 11 and 20 books

8% have read between 21 and 50 books

2% have read between 51 and 100 books

How Romance Readers Obtained the Last Romance Novel They Read

36 % bought their book new

25% checked their book out from a library

16% borrowed their book from a friend

13% received their book as a gift

5% bought their book used

4% got their book in other ways

1% traded another book for a new book

The Percentage of Romance Novels That Are Bought New

54% buy 20% or fewer books new

32% don’t buy any new books

15% always buy new books

Where Readers Purchased Their Books
Mass merchandisers such as Target or Wal-Mart have become the most popular place for readers to buy their books.

31% bought their books from a mass merchandiser

22% bought their books from a mall bookstore

16% bought their books from a free-standing bookstore

8% bought their books from a mail order

6% bought their books from another outlet

5% bought their books from a book club

5% bought their books from a grocery store

4% bought their books from the internet

2% bought their books from an airport bookstore

1% bought their books from a drug store

Settings or Subgenres Romance Readers Enjoy
Romance readers ranked the following setting or plot elements for romance novels in order of most enjoyable:

1) Mystery, Thriller, Action plots preferred by 48% of readers

2) Exotic Settings preferred by 36% of readers

3) Contemporary themes preferred by 33% of readers

4) Inspirational romances with a spiritual sub-plot preferred by 31% of readers

5) Colonial American settings preferred by 27% of readers

6) American West settings preferred by 25 % of readers

7) Historical romance set in England preferred by 24% of readers

8) Scottish-set historical romances preferred by 21% of readers

9) Medieval set romances preferred by 21% of readers

10) Paranormal romances preferred by 18% of readers

11) Futuristic romance preferred by 14% of readers

Types of Covers Preferred By Readers

53% of readers prefer covers that are either abstract or romantic

35% of readers prefer sedate and abstract covers

12% of readers prefer romantic covers

> > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > >
RWA’s statistics result from two studies commissioned by the association.

One study -- on the sales of romance fiction -- is tabulated by mathematician Olivia Hall, who draws data from mass-market book distributors’ yearly release information; from figures released by the American Bookseller Association; and from reports by Ipsos BookTrends, an independent market research firm that studies book trends. This study is updated every 12 months.

Another study focuses on reader demographics, book content, and book-buying habits.It is conducted via telephone survey and in-person focus groups by Corona Research, a market-research firm in Denver, Colorado. This first version of this study was conducted in 1998. The Follow-up surveys were conducted in Summer/Fall 2002 and Winter 2005.


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