Friday, March 20, 2009

Romance Literature Statistics: Readership Statistics

Studies done by Romance Writers of Amercia reveal these facts:

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 compiled by RWA from Simba Information (an independent market research firm that studies the publishing industry), R.R. Bowker's Books In Print, the AAP, and other named sources. 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. Another reader survey is planned for 2008.

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