The decline of print sales of romance books and the rise of e-books led to a three-way tie for the top format in the genre in 2012 among e-books, trade paperback, and mass market paperback. According to Bowker Market Research, the three formats each claimed 27% of spending on romance titles last year. Hardcover was a distant fourth, accounting for 16% of spending.
The combination of print and digital sales made Amazon the largest single outlet for romance titles in 2012, with a 25% market share. Together, other direct-to-consumer outlets, which include online retailers and book clubs, also had a 25% share of spending last year. Barnes & Noble and Walmart were the only other outlets that had double-digit shares of spending in the year, with 16% and 12%, respectively.
The age of consumers who read romance books is spread out. The biggest group of romance buyers in 2012 were aged 30–44, accounting for 25% of all spending, just ahead of the slightly older 45- to 54-year-old group. Retired folks and others over 65 spent a little bit more money on romance books than those in the 55–64 age bracket.