Market Research: NPD Reports Romance is the Leading Growth Category for US Print Books This Year
When it comes to print book sales in the U.S., romance is the leading growth category so far in 2022. For the year to date through August 6, 2022, romance sales volume reached nearly 19 million units. The romance market hasn’t reached those levels since 2014, according to the The NPD Group, which recently merged with Information Resources, Inc. (IRI). Moreover, the recent growth is specific to the print format ― corresponding e-book romance sales volume has declined by 16%.
The romance category is also contributing to nearly two-thirds of the overall gains for adult fiction. In fact, 5 million more units sold this year, compared to last year, and unit sales grew 40% over 2021. “While nothing is certain, we expect the romance category will continue to see elevated sales through 2023,” said Kristen McLean, books industry analyst for NPD. “Readers are buying more escapist fiction, combined with more shelf space dedicated to romance and BookTok titles across book retailers, will help contribute to the category’s continued success.”
No Signs of Slowing
One way to gauge sales momentum for the romance category is by reviewing the monthly rolling 12-month sales trend, which offers a better sense of the longer-term trend. The 12 months ending July 2022 marked a two-year high point, driven by the popularity of BookTok romance authors.
“When we looked at romance author sales earlier this year, it was clear that BookTok is contributing to the most romance gains and helping to create a new romance fanbase among young readers,” McLean said. “The fact that the growth is happening only in print formats, coupled with the fact that traditional romance authors are not keeping up with the overall sector growth, indicates that this truly is a whole new group of readers coming to this genre.”
About Gary Price
Gary Price (email@example.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com. Gary is also the co-founder of infoDJ an innovation research consultancy supporting corporate product and business model teams with just-in-time fact and insight finding.