Romance Readers

Romance Writers of America commissioned NPD Book to perform the creation, implementation, and analysis of "The Romance Book Buyer 2017: A Study by NPD Book for Romance Writers of America." Below is some of the information discovered about romance readers.



  • Gender: 82% are female; 18% are male. 
  • Age: average age is between 35 and 39 years; the highest percentage falls in the 25–34 age bracket.
  • Ethnicity: 73% are White/Caucasian, 12% Black/African American, 7% Latino/Hispanic, and 4% Asian/Asian American.
  • Sexual orientation: 86% of survey respondents identified as heterosexual or straight; 9% identified as bisexual, pansexual, or other bi+ identity; 2% identified as gay or lesbian.


Reading Habits

  • Most frequent readers are younger, with half of frequent and very frequent readers aged 34 and below.
  • 92% of survey respondents are print readers; 64% are e-book readers; 35% are audiobook users.
  • Tablets and smartphones are the most-used devices to read e-books.
  • Half of romance readers read romantic suspense, followed by erotic and historical as the most popular genres.
  • Younger readers read more young adult, erotic, and paranormal romance and less contemporary romance than older readers.


Acquiring Romance Books

  • Where do readers acquire their romances?
    • Top responses were: borrow from a library; purchase in brick-and-mortar bookstores; acquire them from friends/relatives; purchase in print via an online store; and purchase them as an e-book via an online store.
    • A higher percentage of readers buy from bricks-and-mortar stores than online, and 15% use a subscription service like Kindle Unlimited.
  • One-third of readers searched for new authors in the the past six months.
  • Content is listed as a more important purchase influence than recommendations. 


Key Takeaways

The future of romance is the younger emerging readership.

These younger readers are:

  • diverse in sexual orientation and in ethnicity
  • more male
  • frequent readers
  • listening to audiobooks
  • reading e-books on smartphones
  • consuming YA, erotic, and paranormal romance
  • shopping at a greater number of online retailers
  • extremely engaged on social media and willing to experiment with new authors



  • Sample of 2,000 romance book readers
  • Survey fielded in December 2017
  • Quota for gender and age based on nationally representative sample of book buyers who said they were likely to read a romance book in the future
  • Screener question: Do you read romance fiction novels? This would include books where (1) there is a central love story and (2) the end of the story is positive.