Confession of the day: I am a romance novel addict. It’s sad, but true. Give me a relaxing weekend and I can go through two or three Nora Roberts’ books with time to spare for sniffles and romantic sighs. This year for my birthday I got a Kindle, and though I added the classics (mostly for the ability to say “oh I have that on my Kindle,”) my main priority was getting as many romance novels as possible. And luckily, thanks to my Kindle, nobody has to know that I’m reading a sappy love story unless they notice me crying when the characters, of course, break up for a week before living happily ever after.

As we all know, the digital book business is booming but what most people don’t realize is that romance novels are a big part of that. Random House, who just released the digital romance series “Rouge Romance,” reports that digital books now make up 10.2% of their sales. When Random House researched the industry they found that romance novel readers among the first to migrate to ebooks and, as Gillian Green of Ebury Publishing says, “one in seven romance readers have already bought an ebook in the last year.” The romance novel publisher Mills & Boon, releases around 100 ebooks each month and according to the PSFK article, their parent company Torstar reported digital revenue increases of C$16.1m. In 2008, a survey by Forrester Research found that 37% of online consumers had never even heard of an electronic book device. Since then, the US has seen an increase in ebook sales of over 1000%.

So why do romance readers prefer the ebook route? For starters, there is a stigma around romance novels and their readers, even though we should be proud that we are actually reading a book rather than constantly watching TV. In PSFK’s article, “Romantic Fiction’s Passion for eBooks,” Sharon Kendrick, a popular romance author says, “If you’ve got a Kindle then no one knows what you’re reading. It’s not about embarrassment, really – it’s more that you don’t want to be judged, and we are often judged by what we read.” In the same article, Susan Edwards, the COO of Ellora’s Cave (a romance publishing firm), attributes the popularity of digital romance novels to the “voracious” appetites of romance readers, who will race through “several” books a week. She says, “That’s a lot of books to buy and store. Ebooks take up a lot less room and busy people don’t have to make a trip to a book store to buy them.”

Now even Ellora’s Cave has come out with the new “eCave Reader” and they are already making plans for the next version. Romance novel publishers are realizing the large potential for this market and are putting their best foot forward in the shift to digital. I, for one, am very pleased, since this allows me to put even more romance novels on my Kindle!

Read the full PSFK article here.

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