Overview of the Romance Genre
Readers, critics and academics argue over the roots of the romance genre, though many credit Jane Austen as the genre’s originator.
In 2012, the romance genre took the largest share of the consumer book market worldwide,12.9% ($1.358 billion), beating out religion/inspirational ($759 million), mystery ($682 million), science fiction/fantasy ($559 million) and classic literary fiction ($445 million). According to the popular genre magazine RT Book Reviews (formerly known as Romantic Times), the average romance reader today spends about $100 monthly reading anywhere from 10 to 40 books a month.
Readers, critics and academics argue over the roots of the romance genre, though many credit Jane Austen as the genre’s originator. Others trace the modern romance genre back to Middle English romances of the mid-14th century or the stories of King Arthur, of Charlemagne and Roland or of Alexander the Great. The romance industry as it exists today began in England, but communities of romance readers and writers exist all over the world, from Bangladesh to South Africa to Mexico.
In A Natural History of the Romance Novel, Pamela Regis outlines the eight narrative conventions that make a romance a romance: society defined, the meeting, the barrier, the attraction, the declaration, the point of ritual death, the recognition and the betrothal. According to the Romance Writers of America, two basic elements comprise every romance novel: a central love story and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.
Photo caption: Harlequin cover shoot
Credit: Julie Moggan
» Ogas, Ogi. “The Online World of Female Desire.” The Wall Street Journal, April 30, 2011.
» Romance Writers of America.
» Tschorn, Adam. “Bodice-rippers Unite.” The Los Angeles Times, April 9, 2011.