Post: What are people buying and reading these days?


If your goal is to eke out a living as a writer, one of the decisions you must make is whether a particular genre will be the central focus of your work. Advanced technology enables a consumer to purchase a book at a click without ever having to leave home. Some folks still enjoy browsing shelves in a brick-and-mortar store, however. In fact, recent years have seen an increase in book stores/cafe style businesses where people can hang out, enjoy a cup of java and ”talk books” with friends. 

While there are numerous ways to buy books nowadays, as a writer it pays (sometimes, literally) to know what people are reading. What are the most popular genres? Are these same genres that most profitable? It’s always a good idea to stay updated on current book sale data. However, it’s also important to follow your heart and write what you believe you are meant to write, even if it doesn’t align exactly with what’s trending in the market place. 

These 5 genres seem to have the most book sales

Recent data shows that consumers have made more purchases in the genres included in the following list than in other book categories:

  • Romance
  • Crime/mystery
  • Religious/spiritual
  • Sci-Fi/fantasy
  • Horror

The romance novel genre boasts nearly $1.5 billion in annual sales, which places it high at the top of the profit list. Interestingly, the religious/spiritual category is the only non-fiction genre on the list. That’s not to say that readers do not enjoy biographies, autobiographies, memoirs or self-help books, etc., only that the five genres listed are consistently the most profitable in the book market. 

Readers purchase books based on these 3 factors

In addition to knowing what genres are the most popular or profitable at any given time, it is also beneficial to understand what compels readers to purchase one book over another. According to Written Word Media, more than half of readers surveyed say that book descriptions on the inside or back covers are the key factor that prompts them to buy or not buy a particular novel. 

Many readers also base their purchases on book price, as well as who the authors happen to be. With regard to book descriptions, readers are reportedly looking for accuracy. If you’ve written a thriller that takes place in a rural town, you’ll want to include such details in the book’s description. People want to know what to expect in a story before they read it. 

Choose the genre that’s the best fit for you as a writer

It makes no sense for you to write a historical fiction book if you have no knowledge about or desire to research the subject matter. If you most enjoy writing comedy, it’s not logical for you to write a mystery series. Book sale data can be valuable information to you as a writer. Ultimately, however, you should go with the genre that feels like the best fit for your skills as a writer, as well as your desires and goals.