The eBook has existed, in one way or another, since the 1990’s when Peter James released his novel ‘The Host’ on two floppy disks. At the time, he was accused of trying to destroy the novel as we knew it.
In modern times, though, the eBook has become more and more popular, and has become one of the easiest and cheapest methods of reading fiction today. Many writers have benefited from this advance in technology, but one genre that people didn’t expect to boom was romance. How did the genre known for shirtless hunks and heaving bosoms get so popular through the use of ePublishing?
Romance novels can be bought anonymously: Rightly or wrongly, there is still somewhat of a stigma against the romance novel. A reader may not want to read a steamy novel in physical form when on the bus, but when it can be downloaded onto an e-reader anonymously, that all changes. Nathan Bransford theorizes that Fifty Shades of Gray would never been as popular, if it hadn’t been released in the era of eBook downloads.
There are now thousands to choose from: In a bricks and mortar bookstore, the Romance section may be quiet little shelf tucked away in the corner, with not an awful lot of choice. In eBook stores, there are quite literally thousands o titles available for your perusal. The Nook store has a huge selection of romance eBooks on offer.
It allows authors to push the definition of ‘romance’: Traditional publishing has placed constraints of romance authors, making them play to a ‘safe’ idea of what romance writing was, and what an audience wanted. Now that publishing can be done quickly and very cheaply, authors can afford to branch out and explore new ideas. Sometimes that means that a book may fall flat on its face, but that’s a risk that authors can afford to take, now. Readers are being given a bigger choice than they have ever had before.
Today’s fan fiction writers are tomorrow’s romance novelists: In the booming world of fan fiction, romance is king. A search for ‘romance fan fiction’ on popular self publishing site Wattpad turns up over well over a thousand titles alone. Fan fiction gives writers a space to develop and hone their voice, letting them practice for the day they write their own original romantic stories.
Self publishing gives authors more freedom: If a writer chooses to self publish, they get an awful lot more control over their work than they would do with a traditional publisher. They can publish stories that appeal to a more niche audience, without having to change aspects of their work to appeal to a wider audience. Also, as romance writer Tessa Dare points out, eBooks can stay available for purchase long after a physical book goes out of print, allowing readers easier access to the title and the author to keep making money from it.
It gives a voice to new, emerging authors: One of the best things that has come out of ePublishing is the way it lets new authors get a foot in the door. Rather than send out manuscript after manuscript and wait in hope of a publisher giving them a deal, they can write their piece and make it available to readers right away. They can build an audience and start earning on their work in a much shorter time frame than they could if they went with a publisher.
The internet creates a wider audience for potential readers: Virginia Romance Writers argues that eBooks are faster, easier and cheaper to acquire, meaning that romance writers can reach a much larger audience online than they can through traditional means. Also, with e-readers becoming cheaper and apps making reading on any device you own possible, even more readers will soon be welcomed into the fold.
Romance readers are voracious, and eBooks can give them more: According to Yahoo Finance, two thirds of romance readers read through at least two books a month. While in the past, their selection and reading speed would have been curtailed by the offerings in their library or local bookstore, now there’s a wealth of novels for them to try out. If they read the bestsellers, they can move on to the brand new books on offer, or the numerous titles put out by self publishing romance writers. Romance fans really have never had it so good.
Romance has always been on the forefront of technological innovation, which has always been a surprise for those who think romance novels are simply bodice rippers and nothing more. EBooks have been the latest innovation that has given the genre a boost, and has helped it welcome in new fans with open arms.