It’s a love match between librarians and romance publishers. “Romance novels do better here than any other genre,” says Anna Mickelsen of the Springfield City Library in Springfield, Mass. “Romance makes up 35% of our more-than-5,000-item collection but accounts for over 43% of the circulation. On average, romance paperbacks circulate more than eight times, while items in other genres circulate fewer than six. The cost of romance novels is generally less than [the cost of novels from] many of the other genres, and with high circulations this results in a better return overall on the library’s investment.”

Publishers are just as smitten, recognizing how valuable librarians are in helping romance readers find the books they want. “Romance novels have always been extremely popular in the library market,” says Cindy Hwang, vice president and executive editor of Berkley. “Romance readers are some of the most voracious and—especially in tough economic times—the library allows those readers to enjoy as many books as they would like to read.”