When thinking about the most popular book genre, we must consider book sales. However, it is not just book sales for paper books but also book sales for audio and digital.

When all things are considered, the most popular book genre depends on the format and situation. The bestselling book genre is romance and the most profitable fiction book genre. Religious & inspirational books are the most popular non-fiction genre, whilst thrillers are the most popular audiobooks.

As a writer heading into a world where over 1 million books have already been self-published, it is important to get any edge you can.

Therefore, it is only natural to ask the question - which book genre is most popular?

However, to answer this question we must delve a little deeper.

The fiction genre landscape offers a rich array of worlds and experiences. Here's a closer look at some of the most popular fiction genres captivating readers globally.


Fantasy genre takes readers into magical realms with mythical creatures and grand quests. It often explores the classic battle of good versus evil and the hero's journey.

Science Fiction

Science Fiction explores futuristic concepts, space exploration, time travel, and technological advancements, often delving into the consequences of scientific innovations.


Dystopian fiction portrays bleak future societies to explore themes of oppression, rebellion, and the resilience of the human spirit.


Adventure fiction is characterized by exciting and risky experiences, often in exotic locales, stirring the reader's sense of exploration and discovery.


Romance novels focus on relationships and love, exploring the emotional journey of characters and often leading to a satisfying and optimistic ending.

Detective & Mystery

This genre revolves around investigations and solving crimes, drawing readers into a world of intrigue and intellectual challenge.


Horror fiction aims to evoke fear and suspense, often through unsettling and supernatural elements.


Thrillers are characterized by fast pacing, tension, and excitement, often involving high stakes and adrenaline-fueled situations.


LGBTQ+ fiction features protagonists and themes that explore the experiences, lives, and relationships within the LGBTQ+ community.

Historical Fiction

Historical fiction takes readers back in time, weaving narratives that blend historical facts with imaginative storytelling.

Young Adult (YA)

YA fiction targets teenage readers but attracts a wide audience, often exploring themes of identity, coming-of-age, and first experiences.

Children’s Fiction

Children's fiction encompasses a wide range of themes and styles, designed to entertain, educate, and inspire young readers.

Nonfiction genres offer insightful glimpses into reality, from personal stories to educational content. Here's an exploration of the most popular nonfiction genres.

Memoir & Autobiography

These genres offer intimate looks into the lives of individuals, sharing personal experiences and journeys that resonate deeply with readers.


Biographies delve into the lives of notable individuals, exploring their impacts, achievements, and the times in which they lived.


Cooking books provide recipes and culinary wisdom, often intertwined with cultural stories or personal anecdotes.

Art & Photography

These genres celebrate visual creativity, offering insights into artistic processes, history, and the beauty of visual expression.

Self-Help/Personal Development

Focused on personal growth and improvement, these books offer strategies for better living and personal fulfillment.


Inspirational books aim to uplift, providing motivation and positive perspectives on life.

Health & Fitness

These books cover aspects of physical well-being, from exercise routines to nutritional advice.


History books explore significant events, periods, and personalities from the past, offering context and perspective on our world.

Crafts, Hobbies & Home

Covering a range of activities and interests, these books provide guidance on various crafts, hobbies, and home improvement projects.

Families & Relationships

This genre explores the dynamics of family life and relationships, offering advice and insights.

Humor & Entertainment

Focused on the lighter side of life, these books entertain and amuse, often through comedy, celebrity stories, or intriguing narratives.

Business & Money

These books provide insights into the world of business and finance, from personal finance management to entrepreneurial strategies.

Law & Criminology

Offering a look into the legal system and criminal behavior, these genres fascinate those interested in justice and societal issues.

Politics & Social Sciences

These genres delve into political theories, current events, and social issues, providing deeper understanding of the society we live in.

Religion & Spirituality

Exploring various beliefs and spiritual practices, these books delve into the philosophical and existential questions of life.

Education & Teaching

Aimed at educators and learners, these books cover pedagogical theories, practical teaching strategies, and educational insights.


Travel books take readers on journeys around the world, offering travel tips, cultural insights, and adventurous narratives.

True Crime

True crime books explore real-life crimes, often delving into criminal psychology and investigative details.

Historical Evolution of Popular Genres

The journey of literary genres is as fascinating as the narratives they encompass. Over time, genres have evolved, reflecting societal changes, technological advancements, and shifting reader interests. This section delves into the historical evolution of popular genres.

The Birth and Growth of Genres

Early literature was often didactic, rooted in religious texts and philosophical writings. As societies evolved, so did storytelling, branching out into distinct genres. The novel, for instance, gained prominence in the 18th century, offering a new form of personal and social exploration.

Impact of the Printing Press

The invention of the printing press in the 15th century democratized reading, making books more accessible and encouraging diversification of genres. This era saw the rise of the Renaissance, which nurtured a variety of literary forms.

The Rise of Fiction Genres

The 19th century marked a significant shift with the rise of fiction genres like the novel, detective fiction, and science fiction, influenced by industrialization and scientific discoveries.

Modern and Postmodern Influences

The 20th century introduced modern and postmodern literary movements, further diversifying genres. This period saw the emergence of dystopian fiction, stream-of-consciousness narratives, and a focus on existential themes.

The Digital Age and Genre Expansion

The digital era has transformed access to literature, leading to the emergence of new genres and sub-genres, influenced by global connectivity and the ease of self-publishing.

Looking Ahead

As we move forward, genres continue to evolve, shaped by cultural, technological, and social factors. The future of literary genres is as promising and unpredictable as the stories they will tell.

The literary world is continually evolving, with new trends constantly emerging in book genres. These trends reflect broader cultural, technological, and societal shifts, offering fresh narratives and perspectives.

Cross-Genre Blending

A significant trend is the blending of genres, where authors combine elements from different genres, such as fantasy with mystery or romance with science fiction, creating unique and innovative storytelling styles.

Inclusive and Diverse Narratives

There's a growing demand for more inclusive and diverse narratives that represent various cultures, identities, and experiences, broadening readers' perspectives and empathy.

Digital and Interactive Literature

The rise of digital platforms has led to interactive and multimedia storytelling, where readers can engage with content in innovative ways, such as through augmented reality or interactive ebooks.

Environmental and Societal Themes

Current global issues like climate change, social justice, and political unrest are increasingly being explored in literature, reflecting the concerns and consciousness of contemporary society.

Return to Comfort Reading

Amidst global uncertainties, there's a resurgence in 'comfort reading' – books that offer escapism, nostalgia, or simpler times, providing a respite from the complexities of the modern world.

Short-Form and Serialized Stories

The fast-paced nature of modern life has led to the popularity of short-form and serialized stories, catering to readers who seek brief yet engaging narratives.

Impact of Digital Publishing on Genre Popularity

The digital revolution has profoundly impacted the publishing world, altering how genres are consumed and perceived. This change has both broadened and specialized the literary landscape.

Accessibility and Diversity

Digital publishing has made books more accessible, allowing niche genres and indie authors to reach wider audiences. This democratization has led to a surge in diverse and previously underrepresented voices.

E-books and Genre Flexibility

The rise of e-books has facilitated genre exploration among readers, who can now easily access a wide range of genres without physical space limitations.

Self-Publishing and Genre Evolution

Self-publishing platforms have given authors the freedom to experiment with hybrid genres and unconventional narratives, leading to the evolution of new sub-genres.

Online Communities and Genre Popularity

Online book communities and social media have played a significant role in shaping genre trends, with readers’ reviews and discussions influencing the popularity of certain genres.

Audiobooks and the Revival of Oral Storytelling

The popularity of audiobooks has revived the tradition of oral storytelling, making genres like memoirs, self-help, and historical fiction more engaging and accessible.

Bestselling Book Genres

The popularity of book genres varies significantly between traditional print and digital formats. This distinction is evident when examining the top-selling categories on Amazon for both hard copy books and ebooks.

Top Selling Categories for Hard Copy Books on Amazon

  • Memoirs and Biographies: These narratives offer readers a chance to delve into the lives of diverse personalities, from historical figures to modern celebrities.
  • Self Help: Ranging from personal development to mental health, these books provide guidance and strategies for better living.
  • Religion and Spirituality: These books explore various religious beliefs, spiritual practices, and philosophical inquiries.
  • Health, Fitness, and Dieting: Focused on physical well-being, these books offer advice on health, nutrition, and lifestyle changes.
  • Politics and Social Sciences: Covering current affairs, political ideologies, and social issues, these works engage readers in the complexities of contemporary society.

Top Selling Categories for Ebooks on Amazon

  • Religion and Spirituality: The digital format provides an accessible platform for exploring spiritual and religious texts.
  • Biographies and Memoirs: The ease of e-reading allows for engaging storytelling about individuals' lives and achievements.
  • Business and Money: Ebooks have become a popular medium for professionals seeking insights into finance and entrepreneurship.
  • Self Help: The digital format allows for interactive and engaging approaches to personal development.
  • Cookbooks, Food, and Wine: The growing trend of digital cookbooks offers convenience and variety for culinary enthusiasts.

This contrast in genre popularity highlights the influence of the medium on readers' preferences. While hard copy books lean towards personal narratives and societal topics, ebooks show a strong inclination towards practical and self-improvement themes.

Book Genres That Make the Most Money

The profitability of book genres can vary significantly, with some genres earning more per book than others. This variance is often a result of differing reader expectations and market demands.

According to a recent report examining the overall profitability of book genres, the top five most profitable categories on Amazon.com are:

  • Romance/Erotica ($1.44 billion): This genre, known for its vast and dedicated readership, often sees high volume sales with passionate fan bases.
  • Crime/Mystery ($728.2 million): Engaging plots and suspenseful storytelling drive the profitability of this genre.
  • Religious/Inspirational ($720 million): These books often have loyal readerships, contributing to their high profitability.
  • Science Fiction/Fantasy ($590.2 million): The broad appeal and immersive worlds of this genre attract a diverse readership.
  • Horror ($79.6 million): Despite being a niche market, horror has a dedicated fan base that contributes to its profitability.

This data highlights the diverse range of profitable genres, each appealing to unique reader interests and market dynamics.

Bestselling Audiobook Genres

Audiobooks have surged in popularity, transforming the reading experience for many. With advancements in digital technology and platforms like Audible, audiobooks have become a convenient choice for readers. A striking increase in sales, nearly 25% between 2017 and 2018, is a testament to this growing trend, with sales nearing $1 billion.

The genres leading this audiobook revolution include:

  • Literature & Fiction: Encompassing a diverse range of storytelling, these audiobooks bring to life complex characters and narratives.
  • Mystery, Thriller & Suspense: The audio format adds an extra layer of suspense, making these genres particularly engaging.
  • Science Fiction: Audiobooks offer a new dimension to the imaginative worlds and futuristic concepts of this genre.
  • Fantasy: The oral tradition of storytelling enhances the fantastical elements in this genre.
  • Romance: Audiobooks offer a personal touch to romantic stories, enhancing the emotional experience.
  • Business & Money: These genres benefit from the accessibility and convenience of audiobooks, especially for busy professionals.

This rise in audiobook popularity showcases the shift in consumer preferences and the adaptability of the publishing industry to evolving media consumption patterns.

Least & Most Competitive Book Genres on Kindle

The competitiveness of book genres on Amazon Kindle offers insights into the publishing landscape, highlighting areas with dense competition and those with potential opportunities for new authors.

Most Competitive Amazon Categories

  • Romance -> Contemporary: A highly saturated genre with a large reader base.
  • Literature & Fiction -> Contemporary Fiction -> Women: Popular among readers, leading to intense competition.
  • Romance -> New Adult & College: A growing genre with high competition.
  • Literature & Fiction -> Contemporary Fiction -> Romance: Combines two popular categories, increasing competition.
  • Literature & Fiction -> Women -> Romance: Appeals to a wide audience, creating a competitive environment.
  • Literature & Fiction -> Genre Fiction -> Coming of Age: A genre that resonates with a broad demographic.
  • Romance -> Mystery & Suspense -> Suspense: A mix of popular elements attracting many authors.
  • Science Fiction & Fantasy -> Fantasy -> Paranormal & Urban: High demand but also high competition.
  • Literature & Fiction -> Genre Fiction -> Erotica: A niche but highly competitive category.
  • Literature & Fiction -> Women -> Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Women Sleuths: A unique blend that draws in many writers.

Least Competitive Amazon Categories

  • Nonfiction -> Science -> Experiments, Instruments & Measurement -> Microscopes & Microscopy: A specialized field with fewer competing titles.
  • Nonfiction -> Business & Money -> Taxation -> Corporate: Appeals to a niche audience, resulting in less competition.
  • Business & Money -> Taxation -> Corporate: A highly specialized category, attracting fewer authors due to its specific focus.
  • Science -> Experiments, Instruments & Measurement -> Microscopes & Microscopy: An area with limited authors due to its technical nature.
  • Professional & Technical -> Engineering -> Civil -> Hydrology: This niche field sees lower competition, catering to a specialized readership.
  • Nonfiction -> Professional & Technical -> Engineering -> Civil -> Hydrology: Similar to the above, it appeals to a specific professional audience.
  • Nonfiction -> Science -> Experiments, Instruments & Measurement -> Weights & Measures: Another specialized scientific field with fewer competing books.
  • Science -> Experiments, Instruments & Measurement -> Weights & Measures: Echoes the above category with its specialized focus.
  • Nonfiction -> Crafts, Hobbies & Home -> How-to & Home Improvements -> Masonry: A practical and niche category with limited competition.
  • Crafts, Hobbies & Home -> How-to & Home Improvements -> Masonry: Similar to the above, it caters to specific home improvement interests.

Understanding the level of competition in various categories can help aspiring authors identify niches with less saturation, potentially increasing their chances of success in the market.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some frequently asked questions that will provide you with more information.

What is the top selling book genre?

Romance/Erotica is often cited as the top-selling book genre, particularly in the digital format, with a significant global readership.

What is the most popular book genre in the UK?

Crime and Thriller novels tend to be highly popular in the UK, often leading sales charts and reader preferences.

What are the 5 most common fiction genres?

The most common fiction genres include Romance, Mystery/Thriller, Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Historical Fiction.

What reading level is most popular fiction?

Most popular fiction targets the adult reading level, but Young Adult fiction has also gained significant popularity across a wider age range.

What is the least popular genre of fiction?

While popularity varies over time and by region, genres like Westerns and certain sub-genres of Literary Fiction are often cited among the least popular in the current market.

Claim your free eBook today and join over 25,000 writers who have read and benefited from this ebook.

'It is probably one of the best books on writing I've read so far.' Miz Bent
Writing Manual