This certainly isn’t news to die-hard romance readers, but it seems as if people like happy endings when times are bad. Duh.
At a time when booksellers are struggling to lure readers, sales of romance novels are outstripping most other categories of books and giving some buoyancy to an otherwise sluggish market.
Harlequin Enterprises, the queen of the romance world, reported that fourth-quarter earnings were up 32 percent over the same period a year earlier, and Donna Hayes, Harlequin’s chief executive, said that sales in the first quarter of this year remained very strong. While sales of adult fiction overall were basically flat last year, according to Nielsen Bookscan, which tracks about 70 percent of retail sales, the romance category was up 7 percent after holding fairly steady for the previous four years.
I’m not surprised. Are you? I pretty much always want a feel-good read, but maybe I was inoculated to human suffering and angst-ridden unhappy endings during my years spent getting first a BA and then an MA — years in which I read tons of “classic literature.” Been there, done that. I still like a good literary story, don’t get me wrong. Ann Patchett and Audrey Niffenegger amaze me, for instance. Wonderful writers.
By and large, give me that happy ending though. You can read the full article here. For once, the NYT wasn’t in the least snooty — unlike the LA Times columnist this week who reported on this phenomenon, put down romance, and then admitted she’d never read one. Ludicrous. Would you let someone tell you what your opinion should be, and then espouse it as your own? I wouldn’t, but she sure doesn’t have a problem with it. Someone told her romance was dumb at some point — so she jumped on the snotty bandwagon and starting beating the drums. Thank God for individuality, right?