September 06, 2007

Consuming fiction

What kinds of novels Americans are actually reading: some industry statistics (2004) from the Romance Writers of America (a vested interest, to be sure, but no reason to question their math).

All fiction sold by genre

39.3% Romance
29.6% Mystery/Thriller
12.9% General Fiction
11.8% Other Fiction
6.4% Science Fiction

Romance specifically

$1.2 billion in sales
2,285 total titles
54.9% of all paperback sales
10.5% trade paperback
8.3% hardcover

The primary driver of these reading habits? According to NPR, women account for 80 percent of the fiction market (all genres). The rest of the RWA statistics can be found here.

Studies from the National Literary Trust (United Kingdom) also conclude that "Women are more dedicated novel readers." But it points out that men read more from "non-bound" sources, such as newspapers, magazines, and the Internet.

One curious finding--at least comparing the U.K. to the U.S.--is that "in only ten years the nation [meaning, women] had ended its love affair with family sagas and books about romance and was devouring thrillers--the more ghoulish the better."