A Guaranteed, Cheap Happy Ending

In a recession, people want escapism and a happy ending. The depressing economic situation has lead to an increase in sales of romance novels, while most other genres are having a difficult time selling at all. Harlequin Enterprises, the grande dame of the romance genre, reported a 32 percent increase in 2008 earnings during the fourth quarter, compared to a year earlier. Sales in the first quarter of 2009 also remained strong, said Harlequin’s chief executive. During the Great Depression, Gone With the Wind was a blockbuster book, and readers today are looking for a similar escape from the harsh reality of foreclosures, lay-offs, and rising prices. Romance novels not only provide a welcome happy ending, but they’re also cheap, which is a plus for anyone trying to limit their guilty pleasures spending. Most paperback novels sell for $7.99 or less, compared to larger trade paperbacks that cost $12 to $15. It’s not clear, however, how much it will cost your ego if you’re caught reading a sappy romance novel in public. [NY Times]

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