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romance novel stats

Link: 40+ Romance Novel Sales Statistics [2023]

romance reader stats

Romance Novel Readers and Sales Stats

What is the average romance reader like? Just who, exactly, reads romance? What is the total number of romance novels sold each year? And what are the most popular best-selling “romance novels” of all time? All these questions have been answered, and now we have even more questions about the romance genre.

We’re posting this fascinating article from the Wordsrated website written by Dimitrije Curcic. It has over forty statistics on the current state of the genre. There’s a lot of food for thought here, and certain issues that we’ll address in upcoming articles.

Some things to note are that romance readers consume books voraciously, with over 78% completing at least one book a month (I’d say most romance fans read greater than just 12 books annually).

The vast majority read on their Kindles, e-readers, and phones, as opposed to “dead-tree” books.

Romance readers are getting overwhelmingly getting younger each decade. 65% of them have read the genre for fewer than twenty years. That certainly explains why old-school romance isn’t held in high regard by most genre aficionados. When blogs and book reviewers publish their lists of “The Best Romance Books…” invariably, most romances are recent, having been published no more than 15 years ago. Although a rare Lisa Kleypas, Julie Garwood, or Judith McNaught will pop up every now and then. Not to mention Pride and Prejudice!

40+ Romance Novel Sales Statistics [2023]

October 9, 2022 by Dimitrije Curcic

  • Romance novels generate over $1.44 billion in revenue, making romance the highest-earning genre of fiction.
  • Romance reached 19 million printed units sold over the last 12 months as of August 2022.
  • Sales of printed romance novels have increased by 36% compared to 2021.
  • Over 33% of books sold in mass-market paperback format were romance novels.
  • Romance was the fastest-growing genre of fiction over this period, contributing to 66% of adult fiction growth in 2022.
  • However, e-book romance novel sales declined by 16% over the same period.
  • Ebook sales account for 60% of total romance unit sales.
  • Since July 2020, the rolling 12-month growth of romance novel sales was never under 0, reaching a 2-year high of 4.7% in July 2022.
  • According to Penguin Random House, romance book sales had increased by more than 50% in 2021.
  • Total unit sales for romance novels reached 47 million in 2021, including print and digital formats.
  • This is a 24% increase compared to 2020, which recorded 37.9 million sold units.
  • During 2021, romance sales accounted for 18% of total adult fiction sales, making romance the second highest-selling fiction category.
  • Romance novel sales grew by 49% in 2021 compared to 2020 in the UK.

What are the best-selling romance novels of all time?

  • Fifty Shades of Gray (2011-2021) by E. L. James is the best-selling romance novel series of all time, reaching over 150 million copies sold.
  • Pride And Prejudice (1813) By Jane Austen came in second with over 120 million copies sold. This is also America’s favorite book, according to WordsRated’s survey of over 78,000 Americans.
PosTitle (Year)AuthorCopies sold
1Fifty Shades of Grey, Series (2011-2021)E. L. James150 million
2Pride and Prejudice (1813)Jane Austen120 million
3The Notebook (1996)Nicholas Sparks105 million
4Gone With The Wind (1936)Margaret Mitchell30 million
5Outlander (1991)Diana Gabaldon25 million
6Love Story (1970)Erich Segal20 million
7The Time Traveler’s Wife (2003)Audrey Niffenegger2.5 million
8Jane Eyre (1847)Charlotte Brontë2 million
9Romeo And Juliet (1564)William Shakespeare500,000
10Anna Karenina (1877)Leo Tolstoy300,000

Diversity in romance novels

  • Authors’ diversity in romance novels is very unbalanced:
    • 92.2% of romance novels published in 2021 were written by white authors.
    • 7.8% of romance novels published in 2021 were written by BIPOC authors.
  • Romance novel readership is also dominantly white:
    • 73% of romance readers are white/caucasian
    • 12% are African-American
    • 7% are Latino/Hispanic
    • 4% are Asian/Asian American

Who reads romance novels?

  • 82% of romance readers are women, and 18% are men.
  • 45% of romance readers have a college degree.
  • The average romance reader is 42 years old.
  • Romance readers are getting younger
    • 10 years ago, the main romance-reading group was women ages 35 to 54.
    • Today, the main romance-reading group is women ages 18 to 54.
    • 44% of readers purchasing a romance book are ages 18 to 44.
  • 70% of romance readers discover the genre between ages 11 and 18.
  • 35% of romance readers have been fans of the genre for more than 20 years.
  • 59% of romance readers are married or living with their partner.

Reading habits of romance novels readers

  • 29% of romance readers carry a romance novel with them most of the time.
  • Romance readers usually finish a novel within seven days.
  • 46.4% of romance readers read at least one novel per week.
  • 78.3% of romance readers read more than one novel per month.


romance novel sales statistics/