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BellaOnline's Romance Novels Editor

2005 Reader Survey Results, Part Two

Hello, and welcome back! This is the second portion of our reader survey results from our 2005 survey. If you missed the first half of the results, you can find them here.

10. What makes a book a 'wallbanger' (as in: throw-it-against-the-wall-annoying) for you?

The most annoying thing for our readers are annoying, TSTL, or unrealistic characters, ranking at 37%. Bad writing/cliched writing and research tie for second at 15%, and are followed closely by inconsistencies in the story at 12%. Other things readers find annoying are unrealistic dialogue, poor editing, too much sex, and just plain boring stories.

11. How many romance novels do you currently own?

- 1-100: 45%; I'll admit, this one surprised me. I'm a book hoarder of the first class, and to only own 100 romance novels might kill me. Literally.

- 101 - 500: 28%

- 501-1000+: 17%

- unknown: 10%

How many are unread?

- 0 - 16%

- up to 1/4: 38%

- 1/4 - 1/2: 27%

- more than 1/2: 3%

- unknown: 16%

12. Have you had difficulty finding new romances to read in the last year?

- yes: 11%

- no: 72%; Barbara says "I have more difficulty finding enough money to buy books than I have finding books."

- not usually/sometimes: 17%

13. Have you read any chick lit, a la 'Bridget Jones'?

- yes: 56%

- no: 44%

If so, have they replaced any of your romance reading?

- yes: 0%

- no: 100%

If you have read them, what have you liked/disliked about them?

Of all the respondents, 60% said they didn't like them and the reasons range from JP's "one-note phenomena" to the more widely noted "self-absorbed, immature" heroines.

If you haven't read any, are you interested in reading them?

Again, 60% of the readers answered negatively here, with several commenting that they prefer relationship stories with a guaranteed happy ending.

14. Have you read any of the erotic romances released by publishers dedicated solely to the genre?

- yes: 58%

- no: 42%

If so, do they comprise a regular portion of your romance reading now?

- yes: 20%

- no: 80%; this one shocked me, considering how much of this is out there and being advertised directly to readers, and considering how many people said they'd tried some of them in the previous question.

Why/why not?

This gets to the heart of it, I think. Cost was only cited once as the reason for those readers who aren't regularly reading erotic romance. The other reasons range from not wanting to read an ebook to "too much sex, too little story/romance," to weak writing/plotting, with comments such as Laure's "I want feelings involved. I want it to mean something.", and Liat's "I like the genre more in theory than in reality at this point, but I have high hopes."

15. Do you read series romance (Harlequin/Silhouette)?

- yes: 48%

- no: 52%

Has your romance reading been affected by the line changes in recent years?

- yes: 55%

- no: 45%

Do you now read more/less/the same number of series books? Why?

Only 12% said they read less, with no responses in the more or same categories. But some of the comments from readers seem to indicate why more than half our respondents don't read series books: "It seems to me that everything that's 'bad' about romance as a genre stems from Harlequin/Silhouette and the like, even more so than the lurid covers we get teased about all the time.....series publishers don't seem to care about their authors or their readers....Honestly, I'd sooner read the most scandalous-looking clinch cover in public than a Harlequin," says JP. Several other readers call them 'too formulaic'.

General comments on the state of romance:

Judy says, "I try to stick with the 'tried and true' authors I've enjoyed over the years and hardly ever go wrong with their books. Occasionally I'll try a new one and if good will add her to the list." Annie adds, "I've read all of Nora Roberts' books so that gives me a pretty good idea of what romance was back in the 80s and as they say, you've come a long way baby'." "I think they are a virtual medicine to the soul," Caroline writes, "It's good to read a book with trial, tribulation and steamy love scenes, knowing of course that they will live happily ever after. A good romance novel leaves me feeling good."

I admit to agreeing with Laure's thoughts here on the current market: "I'm waiting for the pendulum to swing back to more character-driven, well plotted books. The focus seems to be a bit too much on erotica and fluffy chick-lit things, or too much action/suspense and not enough real emotion and romance."

As for our readers.....

16. Do you work full-time (53%)/part-time (32%)/not at all/other (15%, which includes retirees, students and the very hard-working SAHMs).

17. Are you a reader only, or do you also write?

- reader only: 58%

- writer: 42%; this also surprised me, I don't know why, having met plenty of writers both published and aspiring, but it did. We have ladies here who're writing all sorts of romance (including erotica and paranormal), as well as other genres, such as history and poetry.

I want to thank each and every one of you who responded to the survey. Not only did you take time out from your reading and otherwise busy lives to satisfy my curiosity, but some of your comments on the site made me feel very warm and fuzzy. Don't tell anyone, but you all made me feel just as good as reading a happy ending in a really great romance. Thank you!

Until next time, happy reading!

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