Romance is hot this Valentine’s Day | PostIndependent.com
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Romance is hot this Valentine’s Day

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Universal Studios’ new film “Fifty Shades of Grey” opens in theaters today.

That isn’t exactly news.

The movie’s Facebook page has around 8.5 million likes. And the movie trailer has been viewed nearly 53 million times on YouTube. That handily beats the video of that cat dressed as a shark riding a Roomba around the kitchen.

The cat is cute as can be, but around 10 million views just can’t compete.

I’ve been reading much of the online chatter associated with “Fifty Shades” because the whole fan fiction-meets-erotica phenomenon has me baffled. With very-adult content, it seems as many people hate it as love it. I read the first book and I admittedly blushed throughout the process. That’s really saying something considering I often go blue in my joke telling. And I worked on a marketing team for an erectile dysfunction drug before moving to Colorado.

The meetings were interesting, to say the least.

I imagine many people — including many husbands and boyfriends lacking a desire to be in the audience but coerced by their partners because of the novelty of this lover’s holiday film — might say, “Who cares?” or “Why, why, why?” With a trilogy of books that have sold more than 100 million copies worldwide and a R-rated film adaptation projected to net around $60 million, somebody cares.

Somebody cares a whole heck of a lot.

According to NeoMam Studios, a Manchester company that collects and reports data, “Fifty Shades of Grey” was the first ebook to sell one million copies for the Kindle. And one million physical copies were sold in 11 weeks, demolishing Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code” previous record of 36 weeks. NeoMam also reports that at 13.4 percent, romance fiction was the largest share of the 2010 U.S. consumer market. Romance is hot, and people want to read it.

And, especially this weekend, see it.

The big business of romance is evident in the numbers. A National Retail Federation’s Valentine’s Day Consumer Spending Survey estimates total spending this year is expected to reach $18.9 billion. That’s a lot of chocolates and roses.

And movie tickets to see “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

Trends in online dating and the role social media plays in bringing couples together in today’s digital age also prove that love and romance are priorities. Whether it’s the Tinder app on a smart phone or match.com on a laptop, digital dating technology continues to become more intuitive for users and easily integrated into singles’ daily lives.

The options increase dramatically.

Facebook, Twitter — and even LinkedIn these days, from what I hear — continue to be platforms for people to link their pasts, presents and futures. I know many people who have reconnected with high school or college friends and exes to spark relationships. Social media allows people to learn more about each other and discover what has been going on in someone’s life in the last decade. The information is all there. That can be a good thing. And sometimes it can be bad.

Depends on who you ask.

Facebook groups — Carbondale has one, for example — are great ways for people with similar interests and regional connections to create new friendships or rekindle old ones. Relationship statuses and status updates are wonderful indicators of how people navigate through life. I try to avoid changing mine because there’s always explaining to do when going from single to in a relationship and back to single again.

Not that I would know anything about that.

I can even forego spending money on all those romance novels by watching others’ relationships unfold on Facebook, which I have appropriately renamed Lovebook for the weekend. I’ve read about trips people have taken together as new couples, marriage proposals and, even better, baby announcements. I’ve been delighted to hear about the progress of at least two new babies on the way and a couple marriage proposals through Facebook in the last few weeks, and it was better than reading “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

That’s my kind of romance novel, anyway.

April E. Clark suggests you check out the story of a Facebook friend who met the love of her life on the Entertainment tab on http://www.postindependent.com. She can be reached at aprilelizabethclark@gmail.com.


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