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Romance writers gather in Atlanta

From the Associated Press

More than 500 authors turned out to sign their books at the Romance Writers of America’s 26th annual conference in Atlanta this week. Some had props related to their stories, such as bottles of red nail polish next to a pile of books titled “What Goes with Blood Red, Anyway?” and bowls of candy -- especially Hershey’s Kisses.

Romance novels generated $1.2 billion in sales in 2004 -- about 40% of fiction sales -- according to the latest market survey carried out by Romance Writers of America, which said that sales have remained fairly constant for the last several years.

The crowd at the book signing was overwhelmingly female, reflecting the genre’s fan base. Most of the men were husbands or boyfriends obediently tagging along to carry bags and boxes heavy with novels.

With the expansion of romance novels into science fiction and military tales, though, the male following is increasing, said Nicole Kennedy, a spokeswoman for the group. The 2004 market survey indicated that male readership jumped from 7% of romance readers in 2002 to 22% in 2004.

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