Romance is the leading category for US print books in 2022, with romance sales volume reaching nearly 19 million units, NPD finds; romance contributes nearly two-thirds of overall gains for adult fiction with unit sales growing 40% over 2021

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September 13, 2022 (press release) –

BookTok is contributing to the most romance gains, creating a new romance fanbase among younger readers

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 NPD Books
With the explosion of content generated by print books, streaming video-on-demand services, podcasts, and audiobooks, our culture is increasingly dominated by the stories we tell. In this interconnected media landscape, books are where some of today’s hottest media properties get their start. But as retail and consumer change accelerates, it can be a challenge to make sense of it all. We work with all the major players in U.S. publishing, retail, media, and toys to understand how digital and print content is evolving. Our books industry experts know the publishing world inside and out; they tap into our point-of-sale data to help you make better and faster decisions in today’s market.

* All content is copyrighted by Industry Intelligence, or the original respective author or source. You may not recirculate, redistrubte or publish the analysis and presentation included in the service without Industry Intelligence's prior written consent. Please review our terms of use.

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