Here’s a great summary on the Associated Press wires of what’s so appealing to so many readers at the moment about romance novels. While the rest of the publishing industry stares at the headlights racing towards it, the sales of romance novels are on the rise. The AP article claims that the novels offer strong heroines overcoming obstacles and finding happiness, which accounts for their current blossoming in sales. Overall sales of fiction (not just romance novels) are up 1%, while travel is down 16% (the economy, stupid) and – somewhat surprisingly, to me at least – mystery/detective fiction has slumped 17%. Self-help has also fallen by 17%. Does that mean that people who bought self-help books also read a lot of crime novels? The demographic profile gets curiouser and curiouser. Maybe it has something to do with an interest in solving puzzles, whether they are shocking crimes or the mystifying complexities of daily life.
Given that more people are buying alcohol and going to the movies at the moment, the spike in buying romance novels is consistent consumer behaviour in a rather cold economic climate. The President of Romance Writers of America, Diane Pershing, says that romance novels offer
rich, complex stories about good people overcoming obstacles to achieve intimacy and an eventual joining of their lives. … Along the way, they have great sex. What’s not to like?
Hard to argue with that. Only, I would prefer it to be non-fiction, at least in my own life.