Why I Read Romance: The Romance Reader

Alright, I admit it... Hi my name is Joni and I am addicted to romance books. There is just something about this genre that speaks to me. I fly through my books, so it’s great that I have a library card to save me money. The average romance paperback can run between $4.99-$7.99 per book, plus tax, and an e-book will averages slightly less. With the money I save, I can buy the necessities: shoes and chocolate. The romance categories are endless: inspirational, contemporary, romantic suspense, mystery, paranormal, historical, and so many more. The best part, for me is the happy ending. The couple’s journey towards each other is met with interesting secondary characters, plot twists, and sometimes evil villains. But, at last, true love conquers all!

Image result for debbie macomber norah
Check out those sleeves!
I got hooked on romance when I was in high school. I sneaked into my older sister's room and "borrowed" the Harlequin romance novels. I believe my first true "adult" romance (if you don't count young adult or Sweet Valley High and Sweet Valley University) was Norah  by Debbie Macomber's. It was a tattered copy, and it may have been floating around from a time when my mom read it. I re-read it. It was so nice to read something with a happy ending after all the depressing books I had to read for school.

So who is the "typical" romance reader? Are we all just sex- starved, desperate outcasts, using emotional porn and smut as a substitute because we can't get the real thing? Oh, puhlease! 

In 2017, Romance Writers of America comissioned "The Romance Book Buyer 2017: A Study by NPD Book for Romance Writers of America" and surveyed over 2,000. Let's examine the results. According to the study, through predominantly driven by female readership (82%), 18% of romance readers are men, breaking the stereotype only women read it. Favorite methods of reading include 92% print or paperback readers, 64% book readers, and 35% are audio book readers. In order of popularity, the most popular subgenres are romantic suspense, erotica, and historicals; however, younger readers are drawn to young adult, paranormal, and less contemporary than older readers. The top devices for e-books are phones and tablets. I lean towards reading books on my phone through an app. That way where ever I go, I alway have a book (more like 20) at my fingertips. There is nothing worst for the reader than to be caught in line or enjoying a meal with nothing to read. Oh, the humanity!

What does this mean for libraries? Well, to stay current and ahead of the curve, if they are not already (which most are) libraries should be investing digital e-book and e-audiobook lending platforms and apps, like Libby by Overdrive and Hoopla. Proportionately, libraries should also invest an appropriate amount of our collection development budget to romance books in print and audiobooks, such as books on C.D. or Playaways. Playaways are a small device about the size of an iPod that comes preloaded with an audiobook, and the customer does not have to worry about transferring files. Great news! Libraries were listed as one of top ways romance readers acquire books. Yay! My future in librarianship is secured.

Ultimately, our readers and I read romance because we love a good story and cheer for the characters to overcome all obstacles to find the strength to love. I read romance because I love happy endings and can't wait each time I sit down with a book that an author like Jill Shalvis or Lisa Kleypas will take me on a journey filled with humor, warmth, and adventure. I read romance because there's nothing like it, and I'm always smiling in the end.

So, why do you read romance? What hooked you? Post your comments below.

If you haven't had a chance, and really want to take a deep dive into the fandom, community, and authors, check out Love Between the Covers. These documentary went behind the scenes at a Romance Writer's of America conference and followed  authors Eloisa JamesBeverly JenkinsCeleste BradleySusan DonovanNora RobertsJayne Ann KrentzJennifer CrusieRadclyffe for three years. 


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