Monday, October 29, 2012

Romance Reader Stats from RWA

RWA commissions an annual study of the U.S. romance publishing industry and romance readers. The 2011 information was just published in the November 2012 Romance Writers Report magazine.

Industry sales information for 2011 is from Simba Information, Bowker Monthly Tracker and AAP:
  • 2011 U.S. romance fiction revenue: $1.37 billion; 14.3% of consumer book market.
  • Simba estimates that for 2012, the overall U.S. consumer book market will decrease by 3.7%, and the romance category will decrease to $1.34 billion (but be up to 14.5% of overall market).
  • Ebook sales of romances were 44% of total units in first quarter 2012 (compared to 26% ebook sales in total book market); mass market accounted for 29%; trade paperback 17%
RWA's romance book buyer survey, conducted by Bowker Market Research:
(Of course, I'm always a bit leery of statistics when they don't tell me all the details of the study--like how many people polled, how selected, the demographics, etc.)
  • 91% of romance buyers are women
  • about half of romance buyers are between the ages of 30 - 54
  • 31% of romance buyers consider themselves "avid" readers; 44% consider themselves "frequent" readers
  • Have been reading romance for more than twenty years: 57% of avid readers, 43% of frequent readers, 41% of occasional readers
  • Element enjoyed most about romance novels: happy ending
  • 94% of romance readers have read ebooks (either purchased or free)
  • Top overall reason a romance buyer selects a book to purchase: likes the author (45%)
  • "Very influential" reasons for selecting a romance to buy: enjoyed author's previous book, book is part of a series, book description, recommendation from trusted source.
  • Not influential: promo items (postcards, trading cards, notepads, pens, calendars, bookmarks, etc)
  • Online elements that influence purchase decision: online bookseller websites, reading about it/seeing it online, seeing it on a bestseller list, author website, seeing it discussed on Amazon
  • How readers become aware of romance books (does not imply purchased -- just knew about a book): in-store display, read an excerpt online, recommendation from friend/relative, author's website, teaser chapter in other print book they were reading, online retailer recommendation on retailer site
I must say, I'm surprised at the 94% figure for having read an ebook. That is MUCH higher than for the reading population as a whole. Romance readers definitely are more open to digital instead of paper.

What do you find the most surprising or significant information from this study?


Barbara Elsborg said...

The half between 30 and 54. Hmm - I wonder what they are categorizing as romance? Are YA books included - things like Twilight? Because I'd have thought the base figure would be lower than 30. And I agree with you, stats and stats - you can make them say what you want.

Rhoda Baxter said...

It would be nice to know how readers find a new author in the first place. (Given that liking the author is the main reason for buying a book).
The Ebook statistic is very interesting too.