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From Laggard to Leader: Record Sales of Romance Books Reflect Next Generation of Contemporary Readers

CHICAGO, July 10, 2023 — Sales of romance print books increased 52% in the 12-months ending May 2023, according to Circana, formerly IRI and The NPD Group. Much of this growth can be attributed to the contemporary interests of new, younger readers, with #BookTok and page-to-screen streaming TV projects leading the sources of discovery. All this new energy has reinvigorated the category, making it the top-growth subject in the U.S. book market for the second year in a row.

“After several years of incremental declines, this new generation of readers flocked to romance during the pandemic,” said Kristen McLean, books industry analyst at Circana.”The arrival of streaming series, like “Bridgerton” in 2020, ignited new interest during stay-at-home orders, and the emergence of #BookTok in 2021 brought a whole new generation of younger readers and writers into the genre with a more contemporary approach.”

Looking at top authors by print volume share for the last 12 months, the generational divide in romance becomes much more apparent. While bestselling mainstays, like Nicolas Sparks, Julia Quinn, Nora Roberts, and Debbie Macomber still sit in the top 10, unit sales for all declined over the last 12 months and are losing share to a crop of next-generation authors, including Lucy Score, Ana Huang, and Ali Hazelwood.

“It is hard to overstate how profoundly shifts in romance-reader demographics have drastically changed the romance books landscape since 2020,” McLean said. “After three consecutive years of growth, it’s an exciting time for the romance market. With traditional and new romance authors sharing the top of the market, we fully except readers to continue to flock to this rejuvenated category this summer and beyond.”

About Circana
Circana is the leading advisor on the complexity of consumer behavior. Through unparalleled technology, advanced analytics, cross-industry data and deep expertise, we provide clarity that helps almost 7,000 of the world’s leading brands and retailers take action and unlock business growth. We understand more about the complete consumer, the complete store, and the complete wallet so our clients can go beyond the data to apply insights, ignite innovation, meet consumer demand and outpace the competition. Learn more at www.circana.com.