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What You Told Us: A Short Survey of Romance Reading Habits

by Deb Werksman
Editorial Manager,
Sourcebooks Casablanca
Several weeks ago [Jan 26] I took the opportunity to conduct a short, informal survey on reading/book buying habits on the Casa Authors blog. I’d like to share a summary of the results with you.
Overall, 76 readers responded—and I stress readers. Over the previous three months, almost half read between six and 20 romance novels, while over 35 percent read between 21 and 70 books.

Sixty-four percent of those responding are not authors.

Over 80 percent read historical romances over the previous three months. The second most popular sub-genre was Contemporary (68%), followed by Paranormal (61%).

Most readers (62%) bought some books in each format—digital and print—while 22 percent bought only print books and 16 percent bought only ebooks. Fifty-four percent of all books purchased were print and 46 percent were digital.

The overwhelming majority—88%—purchase books online, at Amazon,, ARe, etc., while almost half—49%—also buy books at bookstores.

Almost a third of the books read—29%—were by an author the reader had not read before. Of those, 61 percent found out about a new author through online reviews and almost half—46%—through recommendations from friends and family.

Word-of-mouth works! 42 percent of respondents recommended a romance novel to others.

I’d like to thank everyone who participated in this survey! Your responses confirmed much of the data we’re seeing in other places, like Bookscan, bookstore, mass market retailers, online retailers, and ebook sales. We use data to drive creativity, and we’re always looking for ways to give readers more of what they want.

Let me know what you think about this information—useful?
Confirms what you already knew/suspected? Did anything surprise you?

Romance Writers of America’s 2011 Romance Book Consumer
survey has more data about readers:


  1. Deb, thanks for the stats. I'm shocked (and thrilled) that 80% of the respondents read historicals over the previous three months. Such a nice thing to hear.

  2. I'm with Tracey: Historicals?! I would have expected contemporary, or paranormal, but the survey may not have tapped into the series readers, and they're a pretty contemporary bunch.
    I read these results as good news, in the sense that there are a lot of ways to reach readers, and a lot of readers are cross-pollinating among genres, reading media, and book purchasing venues.
    It's also interesting that the e-reader only stat suggests the print book still has a large and loyal following.

  3. Word of mouth works! LOVE IT! I've been preaching that from my soap wagon for years.
    Thanks for sharing the results and I'm not surprised that the print book still has a loyal following. My whole family are avid readers and they still love the "smell" of a brand new book.

  4. This info is great! Thanks, Deb:)

    Very interesting stats, BTW. I'm thrilled that I'm not alone in my love of print books. Even with all of the innovative "tweaks" that have been made to e-readers, etc., I still haven't made the plunge yet and purchased one. It feels like I'd be going over to the "dark side." LOL!

  5. I LOVE historicals, so I'm not surprised there's such an interest in them, yet, I'd heard for years that publishers didn't want them because the market was slow. My Highland books are really doing well so it's never made any sense to me! Whenever I have a chance to pick up another book and read it, chances are greater that it'll be a historical. :)

  6. Like Tracey, I was thrilled to see so many readers reading historicals.

  7. As a feral cross-genre reader reader myself, I don't find the historical results surprising, nor do I find the print vs. ebook ratio surprising. Though I have an e-reader, I still have a strong preference for reading physical books. I also have concerns about digital's robustness as a long-term storage medium. But...YAY! READING!

  8. As an avid reader of historicals, particularly ones in good ol' fashioned print, I'm thrilled to see I'm not alone! Interesting results!


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