Romance: the theme of choice for young adult readers in 2017

ebook apps

The largest free reading digital application in the world, Worldreader, recently released reader statistics for 2017 and it was no surprise that romance topped the list for the third consecutive year. Young adults are the majority users of the app. Love and sex were the most keyed in search words.

Worldreader reckons that curriculum-based books barely tackle the theme of love, making young adults to look for it elsewhere. At their age they are potentially into relationships and would like to know more about them.

Major shift

According to Worldreader, there was a major shift from the ‘traditional’ Harlequin series to the more relatable African love stories, such as the Harmony High series. While Harlequin stories are set outside of Africa, Harmony High and other African series have a more personal touch which readers can relate with. However, most of these series are set in South Africa, which by all indicators still leads in the number of readers too. Second on the readers list is Nigeria.

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Top books of 2017

Broken Promises (Ros Haden, Cover2Cover)

Forever My Love (Heather Graham, Open Road Integrated Media)

Sugar Daddy (Ros Haden, Cover2Cover)

Le Roman de la momie (Théophile Gautier, Feedbooks)

First Love…Thinking of Him (A.V Frost, Beaten Track Publishing)

Thrust of local language books

The demand for Worldreader books breaks linguistic and cultural barriers. Books in local languages are widely read and still, romance tops the list. For instance, ‘In Kano, a predominantly muslim region in Northern Nigeria, romance novels are coveted among women and girls. A Daren Farko is a bestselling romance novel in Hausa, the local language in Kano. Translated as “My First Night,” this book chronicles the first night of marriage between husband and wife, a momentous event many young women can relate to in this part of the world.’


While Worldreader has worked hard to bring books closer to the reader, there are still challenges with getting the correct statistics. The parameters used to measure readership are not adequate.

Worldreader indicates ‘Reader ratio rates are the rate of readers who click on a book and read past page three.’ That means a reader who opens a book, scans to the next page, closes it and opens another while searching for a gripping story impacts the number of impressions.

These challenges do not however overshadow the triumph of local publishers notably from Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and South Africa on the platform. These publishers have effectively replaced those based outside the continent in terms of content delivery and meeting demand for their products.

Image credit: Worldreader