Is Chick-Lit Driving eBook Sales?
Since jumping on the ereader bandwagon several years ago, I’ve operated under the assumption that most people who regularly buy ebooks were like me – technology-obsessed bibliophiles who were simply fascinated with the technology.
While that may have been true years ago, if indeed it ever was, I can’t help but notice that the demographic tides have turned. My mother and younger sister are the only ereading converts I’ve been able to make in my family. Amongst co-workers, the only fellow Kindle disciples I’ve found have been ladies. When taking the train to work every weekday, I share that knowing ebook-lovers nod with women far more often than men.
Is it just me? Consider:
• Of the Top 10 best-selling books in the Kindle store, nine out of ten are written by women. Amongst free books? Also nine out of ten.
• In the Nook store, the top magazines outside of National Geographic are Us Weekly, Star, Cosmopolitan, and Women’s Health.
• According to numbers released by the New York Public Library, romance novels account for more than twice the number of the next highest genre in terms of ebook rentals.
That latter point may actually be the big contributing factor to the boom in female ereader owners. They’re the perfect platform for people to indulge in romance novels. It may be slightly embarrassing to have a paperback featuring a long-haired barrel-chested Fabio type in your purse, but ereaders don’t betray your reading proclivities to the public at large. Even better, they can be purchased cheaply and discretely without fear of being judged by the folks behind the counter at your local bookstore. It’s a guilt-free experience.
The numbers bear out this trend. According to a report by Nielsen BookScan, just two percent of all printed books sold in 2009 were romantic novels, compared with 14 percent of all ebooks sold. And that was in 2009, when the nascent ereader market was still in its infancy! There were just 3.6 million ereaders in circulation by the end of 2009 compare to an estimated 11 million this year. That’s a lot of cheddar for romance writers who timed the market right.