June 5, 2012
Last week, I caved into the hype and started reading the infamous “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy. The majority of the ladies at Fast Horse have burned their way through all three books in the series, and I cannot go to any function without it coming up at least once. “Have you read ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ yet?!?”
Ridiculous plot aside, the stunning growth of the series is amazing. Published almost exactly one year ago, the series has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide and movie studios fought tooth and nail for the movie rights this past spring.
While it may seem that “Fifty Shades of Grey” has sparked a new trend in adult novels targeted at women, the series is actually just an extension of the wildly popular romance genre.
How popular, you ask? Romance is the most popular literary genre — by a landslide! In 2010, romance fiction brought in $1.358 billion in revenue, compared to $682 million for mystery and $559 million for science fiction/fantasy genres.
As you could have guessed, women are the prime consumers of romance books, making up 91 percent of sales. More specifically, consumers of romance novels are likely to be aged 30- to 50-years-old and live in the South. What’s more, they are voracious readers: Half of romance book buyers purchase a new romance book at least once a month.
Some analysts credit the popularity of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” novels to e-readers, which provide a more private reading experience. While this is spot on with the general romance buyer, who is more likely to buy an e-book than fans of any other genre, I have a feeling it has to do with something else…. I guess you’ll just have to read the books!
** Stats from Romance Writers of America