By Anna Kathryn Lanier
Merry Christmas! I’m spending time with my in-laws and will check in from time to time, though, see what’s going on. Thanks for having me, Lisabet. First, I’m discussing the phenomenal sales of e-romances. Second, leave a comment on my topic or on my blurb and you could win a prize
I attended a conference in October 2008 where, during the question and answer panel, one of the visiting agents said that two things sell well during a bad economy – movie tickets and books, in particular, romance books. To back up this statement, The New York Times in an April 2009 article says, “While sales of adult fiction overall were basically flat last year, according to Nielsen Bookscan, which tracks about 70 percent of retail sales, the romance category was up 7 percent [in 2008] after holding fairly steady for the previous four years.” It went on to say that Barnes and Noble reported that they expect a 4 to 6 percent decline in overall book sales for the year 2009, yet there's been an increase in romance sales since January.
Now, we have e-book readers, which has brought on a whole new playing field for readers. An area of publication that more established publishers all but sneered at has become the jewel of the industry. As The New York Times wrote on December 8, 2010 the sale of romance e-books is thriving. Matthew Shear, the executive vice president and publisher of St. Martin’s Press, says “Romance is becoming as popular in e-books as it is in print.”
The New York Times article would have us believe that this is because romance readers are ashamed of the covers on print books, embarrassed by the bare-chested men and scantily clad women that so often catch our eyes. With the advent of the ‘brown-paper bag’ for bookcovers, readers are snatching up romance books as never before, albeit as e-books. However, as the statics above show, romance has always been in the forefront of book sales. Romance has always outpaced the sales of all other genre, taking anywhere from 30-50% of the market.
According to the Romance Writers of America yearly report, romances generated $1.36 billion in sales in 2009. They made up more than fifty percent of the paperbacks sold and 25% of all books sold. In comparison, religion/inspirational books generated $770 million in sales, mystery $674 million, Sci Fi $554 and classical literary fiction $462.
Barnes and Noble, it seems, has had its head in the sand for the past two decades. According to William Lynch, the chief executive, Barnes and Noble has been a non-player in the romance field. But with the genre capturing 25% of the e-book market, it has decided to get on the romance bandwagon. Sometime next year, Lynch says he “expects the company’s e-book sales in romance to surpass its print sales.”
Even when the economy is on the down turn, romance sales bloom. When things look bleaker than bleak, people want hope, love and happiness. Romance novels give them that along with an escape from reality. And now, with e-readers, it gives it to them in a handy, take-along way. Most e-readers can hold hundreds, if not thousands of books.
Thousands of more choices, too. On average, a print romance book has a shelf life of about a month. E-books change all that. Now a book can have an unlimited life-span. Both Random House and Harlequin Enterprises are digitizing backlists of favorite authors, Harlequin to the tune of 10,000 titles dating back to 2002.
I do not believe the argument that romance is selling through the roof (a 27% increase at Sourcebooks this year) because of e-books. Romance has always sold through the roof. Romance has been the back-bone of the publishing industry for decades. Nor do I believe we buy e-books over paperbacks because we’re embarrassed to let other people know what we’re reading. I have proudly read my paperback romances in public.
No, I think the reason e-books are selling like hotcakes is due to the convenience of buying them. E-readers allow for the instant purchase of a book, no matter where the reader is. Sitting at home in one’s easy chair, at the airport waiting for a flight, at a restaurant talking with friends (“You have to get this book.” Bingo, go online and download the book then and there.). As long as wi-fi is available, a reader can instantly get a book.
Contrary to the recent snickering and whispers by the news media, the popularity of romance is nothing new. Romance novels have been at the top of the buyers’ lists for decades. It is no surprise to me at all that the genre is leading the e-book pack, too!
What’s your opinion in this argument? Do more people buy romance e-books because an e-reader hides the ‘naughty’ books they’re reading? Or are more e-romances being bought because it’s convenient?
Speaking of e-books, my latest story A GIFT BEYOND ALL MEASURE was released on December 8, 2010 through The Wild Rose Press. It is now available for purchase for Kindle and will soon be available at Barnes and Noble for their nook.
Leave a comment and you can win a copy of A GIFT BEYOND ALL MEASURE. I’ll draw for a winner on December 28th.
Arriving home for Christmas, the last thing Jacob Scott expects in his house is a sexy, shotgun-toting stranger. Worse, his attraction to her bothers him even more than the gun. Still reeling from the deception of his long-time girlfriend, he’s not looking for romance.
Tessa Jones has learned one hard lesson—when everyone in your life has failed you the only one you can trust is yourself. Facing the whispers of the townsfolk and an arson charge, Tessa unexpectedly finds herself trusting Jacob with more than her legal troubles.
Struggling between the promise of the present and the hurts of the past, can these two lost souls overcome their pain long enough to discover a gift beyond all measure?
Jacob Scott raised a brow, then broke away from her hypnotic stare to glance at the shotgun pellets embedded in his wall. “You could have killed me.”
“You broke into the house in the middle of the night.”
He reached into his jeans’ pocket and pulled out his keys. “I didn’t break in. I have the damn key to my own front door.”
She put a hand on her hip and cocked her head. “And how was I to know it was you making all that noise? You’re not supposed to be here.”
Irritation boiled inside his gut. She was treating him like a criminal for entering his own home.
“Well, I am here and this is my house. And just who are you?”
She drew in a breath and glanced to her left. “Tessa Jones,” she mumbled.
The name rattled around in his brain. It was familiar. She was familiar, but he didn't think he'd actually met her before. He sure would have remembered that thick auburn hair and lush body if they'd been introduced. So, why did he know the name?
Oh, no. Not that Tessa Jones.
“Tessa Jones? The cook for Baxter’s Diner who burned down half of Spencerville after she started a kitchen fire last month?” Thrusting a hand through his hair, he shifted his weight “What are you doing in my house?”
Her face reddened as she glared at him. “I’m the cook for the cowboys here on the Triple H.”
What was Christina thinking? Hiring an arsonist as a cook?
What he thought must have shown on his face, because the hand on her hip fisted, bunching the flannel and inching it up to reveal more of her lovely thighs. Fire blazed in her eyes. “You know, things aren’t always what they appear to be.”
With that, she strode down the hallway to a bedroom and slammed the door behind her.
Also, I have a limited-edition A GIFT BEYOND ALL MEASURE COOKBOOK. You can download the FREE pdf version of it off my website.
Anna Kathryn Lanier
More than Tumbleweeds
Heartwarming, Sensual Westerns