This research project examines the frequency at which the romance subgenre, paranormal romance, appears on the online social media subcommunity BookTok. The term paranormal romance refers to any title containing a protagonist or associate who is deemed to be unnatural or supernatural in species, ability, presence, or otherwise wherein a romance containing the supernatural character is prominently featured. Collecting data from top BookTok accounts, we found that paranormal romance appeared more often within BookTok creator content. However, surveys from BookTok users asserted that the contemporary romance subgenre dominated their "For You Pages." Interviews with BookTok creators suggest that BookTok viewers often used major romance genres as catch-all categories, grouping titles that didn't technically meet set criteria for the sake of efficiency. Overlap among top subgenres is becoming increasingly common due to the rise of self-publishing, which forgoes the traditional publishing process that typical genre determination is associated with. As titles become increasingly harder to categorize appropriately, it seems that readers opt instead to group fiction based on loose overarching, broad categories into definitions that differ from industry standards. By analyzing BookTok and other online reading communities, we uncovered interesting information about the state of the current reader, whose interpretation of book categorization deviates from the industry and is more in tune with the cultural shifts within the reading community. These findings have the potential of offering information to the publishing industry or self-published authors on how they market their books.
University / Institution: Utah State University
Format: In Person
SESSION A (9:00-10:30AM)
Area of Research: Humanities
Faculty Mentor: Joyce Kinkead