I don’t want to make this an overly complicated or deep post. Mostly this is just set-up for this week’s discussion on “Hybrid Genres.” Below is an interesting and thought-provoking “map” of genre fiction and all of its attendant subgenres. You may be aware of more subgroups or disagree with the categorization but it does make you consider exactly what is it you are writing/reading.
Last time, I spoke about the dominance of the romance genre in book sales accounting for 21% of the book market. Since that time, there have been some requests for statistics as to the sales figures for other genres. The total net revenue for books in the U.S. was around $6.31 billion. Of that, Science Fiction/Fantasy accounts for $495 million or 7.8 % of the market. Classic Literary Fiction is about $448 million or 7.1 % of the market. I was rather surprised to discover that Mystery, which is at $422 million, is only 6.7% of the market. And perhaps the newest and fastest growing genre – Graphic Novels make up a not insignificant 2% of overall book sales, bringing in $128 million and those figures are expected to increase in the years to come.
In the writing world, and even occasionally, the reading world you will hear people making fun of romance writers and fans of the genre. Even I’ve fallen victim to the hype and find myself buying my romance novels online where no one can see me and reading them in secret. But to honor the fact that Romance Writers of America held their National Conference here in Washington DC in July, I thought it would be good to clear the air once and for all about romance novels.
According to Simba Information, which reports U.S. book sales (net revenue from retail sources) – in 2006 romance sales accounted for $1.37 billion in revenue. Okay, now considering that the total sales of in the U.S. are around $6.31 billion. If you do the math, that means that romance novel sales account for more than 21% of the market. Pretty impressive. And if that isn’t enough romance books actually dominate bestseller lists. There were 288 titles on the lists (some represented twice because of the different formats for a total of 304 books) and 161 romance authors.
Maybe it’s time to give the romance genre the respect it is due.