from Suzy Parker, USA TODAY
Affection for the romance genre hasn’t faltered even as the rest of the book industry has struggled since the economic crisis began. Sales of romance novels have held steady at about $1.4 billion every year since 2008, according to Romance Writers of America’s 2011 Romance Book Consumer survey.
A large part of the genre’s enduring appeal? The happy-ever-after endings.
“I read romance because, for me, it’s real life on steroids,” says Kara Conrad, 43, a teacher near Little Rock. “In a really good romance, the characters are true to life enough that I recognize myself or others in the characters.” Bad things can happen in the books, she says, but she knows everything will work out fine by the end.
Romances also equal escape. “Between the economy, politics, and bad tidings on the news, romance novels offer a respite, a chance to relax, and the opportunity to step into another world,” says Jenny B. Jones, author of There You’ll Find Me.
Reading a romance can even be life-changing. Romance author Cindy Gerard says a soldier who had done two tours in Iraq wrote to tell her that when he went back a third time, “he planned to die.” While there, he picked up her novel To the Edge.
That soldier, David Drennan, who is on active duty in the U.S. Army National Guard, says he could relate to the book’s hero, who was also struggling with his transition back to society. “It made me feel like I could turn things around for myself if only I had the courage to just get out there and do it,” Drennan told USA TODAY. “Romance novels aren’t just for women.”
Romances show women that they are the heroines of their own lives and that achieving a so-called happy ever after takes hard work.
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