Romance Novels Paperback
A romance novel is a genre fiction book that focuses on the relationship and romantic love between two characters and has an “emotionally satisfying and optimistic” ending. It has several subgenres.
A feisty stewardess and her rough-and-ready handyman spar over work and play in this romance from Vermont-based Rochelle Bilow.
Romance novels are a type of genre fiction that centers on romantic love. The term is derived from the Latin romanz, or “romantic”, and the genre has been popular among women since ancient Greece. Despite being one of the most popular and best-selling genres, romance literature receives little respect from larger society. In fact, critics tend to characterize it as trashy or fluffy.
For years, romance books were primarily read in the boudoir and confined to women’s preoccupations with love and marriage. However, in the 20th century, Mills & Boon established a formulaic approach to the genre and created a loyal readership. Today, women still dominate the romance market, purchasing and reading hundreds of books a year and fueling (according to Jezebel) a $1.4 billion industry. In the 1970s, Avon released The Flame and the Flower, considered the first modern bodice ripper. Its success ushered in a new era of quick-turnover paperback romances that were aimed at a mainstream mass-market audience of female readers.
At their most basic level, romance novels are about a girl and guy who meet, fall in love, and get married. The details of their story can vary widely depending on the tropes the novel follows, but every romance novel must have a happy-ever-after ending.
Romance is a popular and profitable genre, but it has also been controversial. Some scholars have argued that the genre enslaves its readers, who are mostly women, by restricting them to stories that ignore social issues.
Despite their reputation as lowbrow books, romances have long been the top-selling genre in print. Many romances are published in paperback, because they have shorter lifespans than hardcovers and are cheaper to produce. The majority of traditional publishers’ romance titles are available in mass market or mass max, but most small presses publish their books in trade size. These editions are usually illustrated and feature eye-catching covers with swoon-worthy scenes of the heroes or heroines.
With a billion dollars in annual sales, romance novels have a tight grip on the industry. They have a wide variety of subgenres, and the genre’s readers are demanding. A great cover is essential, as it is the first thing to catch a potential reader’s eye.
Romance novel covers often feature scantily dressed heterosexual lovers caught in a “clinch” and other steamy images. This style was popularized by Harlequin’s era-defining series of sexy books, with long-haired model Fabio appearing on countless cover shots.
Now, romantic fiction publishers look for sexy imagery that will stand out from the competition. They use bright colors and plot-related illustrations that convey details without requiring readers to read the book’s jacket copy. They also strive to woo upmarket women’s fiction readers with contemporary and compelling love stories that might require a hanky or two at the end. They may incorporate creative font styles or scriptures into their designs, as well.
A quick glance at sales data from NPD BookScan (formerly Nielsen BookScan) reveals that romance novels are still going strong. In fact, they are selling better than ever. According to the company, unit sales for the genre reached a 2-year high in July 2022.
In a time of pandemic, uncertain world events, and a growing skepticism of the government and media, it makes sense that people are turning to romantic fiction for escapism and a guaranteed happy ending. And while the genre may be prone to tropes, it remains one of the most popular genres in publishing.
Romance can be written in any tone or style, and set in any place or time, which creates specific subgenres such as historical and erotic romance. And it can be read on a variety of devices including tablets, smartphones, and e-readers. Most often, readers find the genre through a recommendation by a friend or by browsing their local library.