Ebooks are a much discussed topic in the publishing industry. There is little information available about the exact sales of ebooks from various publishers, but in a 2016 study from Authorearnings.com, romance ebook sales from Amazon were examined. According to Nielsen (a company that tracks the retail sales of print books), only 4.4 percent of the print books sold were romance. But out of Amazon’s ebook paid sales, 45 percent were romance. And out of all romance sales, an estimated 89 percent are digital copies. So why do romance readers buy so many ebooks?
Some of this can be explained by convenience. Digital books are delivered instantly after purchase and can be bought anywhere with internet access. Print books ordered online take a few days to get to the reader. Moreover, books purchased in person must be from a retailer that sells a book the reader is interested in. Romance readers tend to read a lot and go through content quickly, so it is much easier and more practical to buy digital formats. Especially since it’s possible to use your phone, tablet, laptop, or eReader to read ebooks, and switching between the devices when reading one ebook requires almost no extra effort.
In addition to being convenient, ebooks are also usually cheaper. A typical romance paperback is $7.99, while an ebook is generally $0.99 to $3.99. Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited and Prime Reading also offer a subscription model beneficial for those always reading something. There are many, many romance books on Kindle Unlimited, which gives readers who subscribe a variety of options, and with Amazon always adding books, readers stay subscribed. Of course, there is always the option to buy used books, but again, readers are limited to what a particular store has in stock.
Romance readers consume content quickly—they read primarily for entertainment and the content is not difficult, so they are able to read faster than someone reading something challenging like a math textbook. Because of this, romance readers tend to read more books, and since ebooks can be released as soon as they are ready (no time is spent waiting for the printer, distributor, shipping to stores, etc.), the production timeline is slightly shorter, although it does depend on what the project needs.
Romance readers likely embraced the ebook format because of their reading habits. Because they read quickly, ebooks offer romance readers many benefits, and so their higher purchasing rates make sense. Romance readers’ response to the ebook means publishers have been expanding their offerings. Publishers consider ebooks less risky since they don’t have to store physical copies, books aren’t physically sent to retailers so there are no freight costs, and retailers won’t return unused copies. Because of their lower risk, publishers have been publishing ebooks they would not publish a print edition of, which means there are more niche options available for romance readers. Self-publishing ebooks on Amazon is also very easy, and many authors are choosing to do this, which means even more variety for readers. Ultimately, romance readers have embraced the digital format, and publishers are offering more options, which means readers will likely keep buying ebooks.