Every year, I review the books purchased from Amazon by AAR readers. In 2022, our sales dropped, likely due to Kindle Unlimited. Through our links, readers bought 15,280 books for a total of $132,303.00 in 2022, compared to 17,591 books for $151,071.00 in 2021. The average cost per book also decreased slightly, from $4.95 to $4.34. Historical romance continues to be the most popular genre among our book buyers, with 16 of the top 25 books being from that genre, four written by Julie Anne Long.
Here are the top 25 best-selling books of 2022, ranked in order of popularity:
Hunt the Stars: A Novel by Jessie Mihalik (here is our DIK review)
Sleepover by Serena Bell (here is our DIK review)
Take What You Want by Jeanette Grey (here is our DIK review)
After Dark with the Duke by Julie Anne Long (here is our DIK review)
A Scandalous Kind of Duke by Mia Vincy (here is our DIK review)
You Were Made to Be Mine by Julie Anne Long (here is our B review)
I’m Only Wicked with You by Julie Anne Long (here is our B review)
Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase (here is our DIK review)
The Siren of Sussex by Mimi Matthews (here is our DIK review)
The Good Girl’s Guide to Rakes by Eva Leigh (here is our DIK review)
Dangerous Kind of Lady by Mia Vincy (here is our DIK review)
The Long Game by Rachel Reid (here is our DIK review)
The Runaway Duke by Julie Anne Long (here is our DIK review)
The Hidden Moon by Jeannie Lin (here is our DIK review)
The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy by Megan Bannen (here is our B+ review)
A Matter of Class by Mary Balogh (here is our DIK review)
A Summer to Remember by Mary Balogh (here is our DIK review)
You Can Run by Rebecca Zanetti (here is our DIK review)
From Courtesan to Convenient Wife by Marguerite Kaye (here is our DIK review)
The Suite Spot by Trish Doller (here is our DIK review)
The Vicar’s Daughter by Deborah Simmons (here is our DIK review)
Walk on the Wilder Side by Serena Bell (here is our DIK review)
Where Dreams Begin by Lisa Kleypas (here is our DIK review)
All the Duke I Need by Caroline Linden (here is our DIK review)
All the Feels by Olivia Dade (here is our DIK review)
Impenitent social media enthusiast. Relational trend spotter. Enjoys both carpe diem and the fish of the day.
I’ve read 4 of these listed, so I’ll have to check out the others! Thanks for the list Dabney, I always find it interesting to see what sells. I also find that the majority of my reading is contemporary and historical romance, even though I quite enjoy other genres as well. But if you look at what I purchase or get from the library, it’s mostly the former.
Math is not my strongest suit, but when I divide your reported sales by number of books, I get average book prices of $8.65 in 2022 and $8.60 in 2021.
I don’t have anyone IRL to share romance purchases with, but I wonder if people who do pass along copies to one or more other people can more easily justify paying $10 or more for a romance title? As entertainment goes, reading is still pretty inexpensive per hour but I can’t afford all the hours I read in a week or year, hence KU (which keeps a LOT of authors out of public libraries) and the public library. My local independent bookstore (which is doing a much better job of stocking romances than in years past – they have 4 or 5 Alexis Hall titles!) is almost exclusively trade paperbacks. And the local Barnes&Noble has two romance sections, one for hardcover + trade paper romances and another for mass market paper. $10 is the minimum to buy a romance in either of those locations and sections, and the vast majority are closer to $18.
Does Amazon give you format information? It would be interesting to know how many AAR recommendations end in KU clicks, and what percentage of AAR sales and/or units are ebooks, mass market paper and trade paperbacks.
I can see clicks and I can see formats. We lose a lot of people to KU. Our readers are 95% e-readers.
Wow! Then I’m surprised the average price per book is so high. There must be a large number of e-book buyers for whom $10-12 per ebook is just no big deal (in order to offset all the Steals and Deals purchases. . . ).
It’s more that because we sell thousands of books, the paperbacks are expensive as are the audiobooks. They boost the price.
You don’t list it in the current Steals & Deals, but Lauren Layne’s last release, You Again, is on sale for $1.99 in Kindle only. I think she said it’s only good for a few days.
I’ve read quite a few of these books and authors and have others of them in my TBR. Looks like we should be concentrating on reviewing historicals and contemporary romance.
Thinking about other factors here like
And how many of them were on sale. I think Dabney has said before that our Steals and Deals are responsible for a large amount of our income from book sales.
A very rough reckoning up in my head shows that only half of those are 2022 releases.
I know I do buy a lot from our steals and deals posts, but there are a lot of other novels on steals and deals that didn’t make this page. So something about *these* books makes them stand out to our readers. It would be interesting to know what that is.
I agree that lots of factors probably go into the purchasing decision. For example, I think Mr. Impossible benefits from being beloved by a lot of people who frequent the site. Word of mouth/post has probably driven sales for that particular book for years. Several of these are also on our all-time bests lists so that probably helps as well. As Caz mentioned below, price is probably a factor also. The Zanetti book is only $6.00 on Kindle, the Lin is only five, The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy has been on sale several times, so it is probable the financial factor worked in their favor. However, of all the books we listed on steals and deals last year, and of all the DIKs we’ve given over the year, something made these novels stand out to our readers. Since these are last years sales figures I think it shows that contemporary and historical romance are still very valued by our readership. I don’t read a lot of that, so it stood out to me.
You are right, Maggie. When I look at what pages get the most traffic, the top hits, after the main site pages (Home, Power Search, New Reviews, Steals and Deals), are our reviews of historical romance and contemporary romance.
I still review both fairly regularly, but 99% of my reading these days is m/m.
I could definitely be wrong but I don’t think m/m was on there at all.
The Long Game by Rachel Reid is on there.
I personally don’t think basing what’s reviewed on what people are buying off the site makes sense. People get their books from everywhere: like libraries, Kindle Unlimited, Bookbub, Bookfunnel, or even on audio (where I read most of mine), so purchases aren’t a very reliable indicator of interest.
I buy on amazon.de and there, often, other prices (many steals & deals are not applicable) or KU offers apply, and sometimes, the links are tricky when starting from this site, so what I buy through this site is not representative of my reading.
I find interesting to see these statistics, but I do not take them as an accurate reflection of what people on this site are reading. Only as an additional interesting information.
By the way, I love steals and deals, because some books I have not bought originally can become accessible to me when you remind me of them in that column, I check often whether they are also discounted on amazon.de – good service – thank you!!
But page views are and they are in line with book sales. Most who read this site, read the reviews of historical and contemporary romance.
I know m/f romances in traditional settings (historical, contemporary) are the most popular. I know m/m readers on this site are in the minority. However, I am saying that books purchases and page views, while interesting, aren’t necessarily reliable. I know I read almost every review, and when something peaks my interest (which is often the D and F reviews), I search for more reviews for that author here on the site. Other times I search out a review based on a title coming up in a community discussion.
In fact, other than reading an m/m review when it’s published, I can honestly say I never use this site to search for m/m reviews or authors. I go to places more dedicated to LGBTQ stories/authors to explore more options. Honestly, if you were to track my page views, etc on this site, you would probably think I have a significant interest in m/f books, which I don’t. I just enjoy reading reviews and I enjoy the community discussions.
AAR might be interested in expanding it’s readership by trying to attract younger romance readers whose reading habits are more diverse than older readers.
Carrie–I’d hope we can do both. This is a site for all romance readers and we review lots of non-het and diverse romance. AND a majority of our readers are still mostly reading traditional romance.
If you ask younger romance readers where they get their recs from, it’s social media, especially Tik Tok. At this point, I am not interested in adding Tik Tok reviews to our workload. In general, people under 40 do not use review sites at all.
Hallelujah. It seems I am not alone. I love mostly historical and contemporary romances but I see fewer reviews of these in AAR compared to say four or five years ago. It’s hard to find something to read from the reviews based on my preferences so I don’t check AAR as frequently as I used to and I don’t buy as many books as I used to. I have started to think there are fewer historical and happily ever after (rather than happy for now) contemporary romance readers out there and hence, fewer books of these kind being reviewed. I have strangely enough shifted to k-dramas, that I resisted watching for so long, until I was lured to watching one during the pandemic and I became “hooked” for the “feel good” happy experience.
Although book sales and page reviews may not be considered by some as the most reliable statistic out there, they probably have a bit more credence than personal opinion on what people are reading. Good to know there are still many historical and contemporary romance lovers out there, at least for now.
I find K-drama and Chinese dramas remind me a LOT of the romances published in the 90s and early nones. Recently I feel like these shows have more of the type of romance I am looking for than a lot of the more lauded romance novels.
Which isn’t to say I don’t read romance anymore – I read contemporary romcoms fairly frequently. Just that these shows deliver what I used to only find between the pages of a romance novel.
Side note: I don’t know if you watch more contemporary or historical dramas, but I ADORE the costumes in the historical Chinese dramas.
I’m curious Dabney. Do you know if (based on page clicks and the timing of sales) the “what’s coming” pages result in sales? I’m wondering if AAR book buyers are “auto-buying” favorite authors. It sounds like they buy from links on review pages.