Why are romance novels most commonly published in paperback?

Ever wonder why romance novels are always published in paperback? During quarantine, I’ve been reading a LOT of romance, and every time I get a new romance novel from the bookstore or a publisher, I noticed they’re always published as paperback. Typically, when a book is first published, they’re produced as hardcover. Hardcover books are more expensive, and can drive a higher profit for publishers in the first six months to a year of a book’s life. It’s after that point that publishers will continue printing the book, but in paperback.

But why is romance different? Why do these books begin their careers as paperback books as opposed to the more expensive and higher quality hardcover?

The short answer is DEMAND. Historically, romance has been the best-selling genre of books in existence. Of course, this fluctuates and changes, and in recent years, we’ve seen an increase in true crime and thriller genres — but from a standpoint of how the industry started, romance was always the highest in demand. Paperbacks are not only cheaper to produce, but they are also easier. So when romance novels were flying off of the shelves, it made sense to get them into the hands of readers as quickly (and cheaply) as possible.

Mass-market paperback novels are also extremely popular in the romance genre. Mass-market paperback novels are the kind you can find for $5 to $10 at airport, grocery stores, etc. They’re often much smaller and more compact than the average paperback. Perfect for tossing in your purse or on-the-go reading! I’ve bought them before simply because they’re the biggest bang for my buck, though admittedly they hurt my eyes!

Notice where they are sold … they’re sold in places that are most convenient to their target audience; middle-aged women. They’re also sold at an affordable price that can act as an add on to any order. I’ve personally been guilty of adding one to my cart at Target simply because it didn’t make that big of a dent in the grocery list, and I doubted that my husband would even notice.

So there you have it; our consistent and constant demand of these spicy, salacious stories are what make them produced at such an affordable price, even right out of the gate. A huge thanks to the publishers for giving us fresh, affordable titles — we see you, and appreciate you for looking out for us and our grocery shopping!

Finished Bridgerton and need something else to read?

If you’re anything like me, you’re finding yourself HOOKED on the latest Netflix craze, Bridgerton. This period show was based off of the Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn, and the books are becoming increasingly harder to find on bookstore shelves. These are unprecedented times we are in, and I personally am loving the historical romance. It’s keeping me occupied and entertained during these long days of quarantine, and I need MORE MORE MORE! So, if you’re a fan of Bridgerton, here are some other titles you might want to check out: 

Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore (A League of Extraordinary Women #1)

A stunning debut for author Evie Dunmore and her Oxford Rebels, in which a fiercely independent vicar’s daughter takes on a duke in a fiery love story that threatens to upend the British social order. This is a newer series by the brilliant Evie Dunmore. The second book in the series, A Rogue of One’s Own, just came out in 2020. Her next book will be out this year – stay tuned!

A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole (Reluctant Royals #1)

Between grad school and multiple jobs, Naledi Smith doesn’t have time for fairy tales…or patience for the constant emails claiming she’s betrothed to an African prince. But, when Naledi mistakes the prince for a pauper, Prince Thabiso can’t resist the chance to experience life—and love—without the burden of his crown. The chemistry between them is instant and irresistible, and flirty friendship quickly evolves into passionate nights. But when the truth is revealed, can a princess in theory become a princess ever after?

Secrets of a Summer Night by Lisa Kleypas (Wallflowers #1)

Four young ladies at the side of the ballroom make a pact to help each other find husbands…no matter what it takes. Another great historical romance series to cozy up by the fire with!

Destiny’s Embrace by Beverly Jenkins (Destiny #1)

With Destiny’s Embrace, Jenkins brings readers back to the American West, where Logan Yates, a self-important ranch owner, must confront his feelings for his beautiful, free spirited housekeeper, Mariah Cooper. While they bicker incessantly, their sexual tension is palpable, and only rises when Mariah’s former lover arrives on the scene. Will she accept Logan’s heart?

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah Maclean (Love by Numbers #1)

A lady does not smoke cheroot. She does not ride astride. She does not fence or attend duels. She does not fire a pistol, and she never gambles at a gentlemen’s club… but this lady has vowed to break the rules. A spicy series with a strong female protagonist … sign me up! Sidenote: the audio is said to be amazing for this one! 

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Not since Jane Eyre has a heroine faced such difficulty with the Other Woman. An international bestseller that has never gone out of print, Rebecca is the haunting story of a young girl consumed by love and the struggle to find her identity. This is a #bookstagrammademedoit title that I’ve seen floating around quite a bit, and it has exceptional ratings on Goodreads. Though it is a standalone, it might just keep you entertained for the time being! 

The Duchess War  by Courtney Milan (Brothers Sinister #1)

Sometimes love is an accident. This time, it’s a strategy. Miss Minerva Lane is a quiet, bespectacled wallflower, and she wants to keep it that way. So when a handsome duke comes to town, the last thing she wants is his attention. But that is precisely what she gets. Because Robert Blaisdell, the Duke of Clermont, is not fooled. When Minnie figures out what he’s up to, he realizes there is more to her than her spectacles and her quiet ways. And he’s determined to lay her every secret bare before she can discover his. But this time, one shy miss may prove to be more than his match…

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (Outlander #1)

The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord…1743. Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives. Admittedly, I’ve never read the Outlander series, but I might need to now! I recently read Kindred by Octavia Butler and really loved the back-and-forth timeline, which it sounds like exists here. I’m definitely intrigued and given the size of the first book alone, I think these could get me through the winter!

Have other recommendations to add to this list? Be sure to contact me at elysse@booksforward.com. Happy reading!