Gen Z is driving sales of romance books to the top of bestseller lists

From National Public Radio:

Ask a Gen Z woman what she’s read recently, and there’s a good chance two names will come up: Colleen Hoover and Emily Henry.

“Gen Z is my favorite of all generations for so many reasons, and their love for reading is just one of the many,” Hoover said. “I love that they are consuming books and sharing books and recommending books. They’re reading so much – not only my books, but books across genres.”

For months, Hoover and Henry have occupied multiple spots on the New York Times paperback trade fiction bestsellers list. The success of these contemporary romance writers has been driven in large part by Gen Z readers – and social media.

“It’s the right person finding the book at the right time and then sharing it with the right people,” said Henry. Her novels Beach ReadPeople We Meet on Vacation, and Book Lovers are all bestsellers.

Hoover’s upcoming book, It Starts With Us – the highly anticipated sequel to It Ends With Us from 2016 – has more pre-orders than any novel in Simon & Schuster history – and there are still seven weeks to publication. Its pre-orders have surpassed Stephen King’s Dr. Sleep, which went on sale in 2013 – the publishing company’s previous leader.

What makes a romance novel a Gen Z hit

A decade ago, the main demographic for romance was women ages 35 to 54. But in the past several years, that has widened to include women 18 to 54, according to Colleen Hoover’s publicist Ariele Fredman.

“Gen Z is a huge audience for romance,” she said. “If you think about it, like millennials, their youth has been marked by global and social upset and unrest in many ways, so looking for a happy ever after or an emotional outlet in a book seems like a healthy way of coping.”

Kaileigh Klein, a 19-year-old college student in Ontario, Canada said she loves Hoover’s books for just this reason – for the big emotions she writes about.

“People [my age] gravitate towards her novels because they’re really emotional. I feel like even if you can’t express emotion in real life, reading it on paper, it’s really easy to connect to it and relate to it,” she said.

Sahar Kariem, a 22-year-old stylist from Maryland, said Emily Henry’s “balance of romance and life lessons,” as well as themes of coming of age, have cemented Henry as one of her favorite authors.

Meanwhile, marketing trends, like covering contemporary romance novel jackets with cartoon figures and bright colors, has also helped pull in a younger audience, according to Leah Koch, who co-owns The Ripped Bodice, a romance bookstore in Los Angeles.

“I don’t know that I’ll ever have a grasp on it, but I’d like to think they’re responding to the entertainment factor,” Hoover said. “The last few years have been wild in the best way, and I’m very grateful to readers who continue to share my books and the books of other authors on their social platforms.”

Link to the rest at National Public Radio