Today in Books

Romance Bookstores Increase Tenfold in Two Years

Rebecca Joines Schinsky

Chief of Staff

Rebecca Joines Schinsky is the executive director of product and ecommerce at Riot New Media Group. She co-hosts All the Books! and the Book Riot Podcast. Follow her on Twitter: @rebeccaschinsky.

Welcome to Today in Books, our daily round-up of literary headlines at the intersection of politics, culture, media, and more. For those playing along at home, The New York Times revealed #80-61 in its countdown of the 100 best books of the century so far. How are your faves faring?

Readers Swoon for Romance Bookstores

Romance is on the rise, and the ceiling is high, folks. Just two years ago, there were only two independent bookstores dedicated to romance in the entire United States: The Ripped Bodice in L.A. (which now has a Brooklyn outpost as well) and Love’s Sweet Arrow in Chicago. Now, there are more than 20. That’s a remarkable 10x growth in two years, but it’s still less than 1% of the 2500+ stores represented by the American Booksellers Association. In 2020, romance accounted for 18 million print book sales; by the end of 2023, that had more than doubled to 39 million copies. That means that more than 5% of all print books sold last year were romances. Not too shabby for a genre that “independent booksellers largely ignored” until very (very) recently.

The Kids Are All Right

Speaking of romance, have you heard it’s big on BookTok? Teens are reading romance in record numbers, and they say it is shaping their views on love and relationships. While Happily Ever After may be a fantasy, romance’s impact on young people is very real. Teen readers report that the genre’s predictable tropes offer comfort, operate as a gateway drug into reading for fun, and provide a safe container for “exploring emotions and relationships on a deeper level.” Connecting with other romance fans online and at book events allows them to build community, a potent antidote to the alarming levels of loneliness Gen Z reports experiencing.

Because some things never change, there are, of course, people concerned that romance novels will give young women unrealistic expectations about love. (These concerned parties are nowhere to be found when we’re talking about other, more male-centric genres.) I’ll let author and academic Jodi McAlister take it from here: “Why shouldn’t young women have high expectations of what they expect in their romantic partners?”

Change Your POV

Reading is about as close as we can actually get to walking a mile in another person’s shoes, and the magic of it is that there’s no telling which books will be mindblowing. Here’s a look at eight books that capture “life-changing insights.” What would be on your own list?

10 of the Best Books for Gen Z Readers

We’ve got fiction. We’ve got nonfiction. We’ve got a book about the quarterlife crisis. If you’re on the older side of Gen Z, we’ve got a book for you.

The comments section is moderated according to our community guidelines. Please check them out so we can maintain a safe and supportive community of readers!

Leave a comment

Become an All Access subscriber to add comments.