E-rotic e-reading

In our latest guest blog, Kingston MA Publishing student Stacey Hill writes about the growth of erotic fiction and how e-readers have helped increase this market.

There was a time when you could glance down the carriage of a train, or at other passengers sat on the bus, and see by the cover of their book what they were reading. Now, thanks to the recent influx of digital e-readers, you are none the wiser. For all you know, the dapper young gentleman with the smart briefcase and designer watch could be reading the latest Marian Keyes or Sylvia Day, and there’s a good possibility that he is.

There has been a distinct rise in women’s and erotic fiction in the past few years, exponentially accelerated by the recent Fifty Shades of Grey revolution. Erotic books sales skyrocketed this summer; in August, eight out of the ten books on the bestseller list were erotic titles. The rest of the book trade found the rise of erotic romance detracting from other genres and sales in all other markets were down. The real success story however, has been e-publishing.

E.L James and her bestseller: over 1.5 million e-books sold. Photo: Startraks Photo/Rex Features.

E.L James and her twitchy-palmed Mr Grey may have paved the way in making the erotica genre more mainstream but evidence shows that the recent surge of e-readers and digitised fiction has really been the driving force behind increased erotica sales.

Currently, 50% of the erotica market is digitised, as opposed to 20% in the general fiction sector. Harlequin Mills & Boon, the renowned publisher of romance fiction, now have 40% of their trade in electronic form. The anonymity of digital devices such as Amazon’s Kindle and the Barnes and Noble Nook are directly influencing consumer reading habits; by using an e-reader, customers can not only read anonymously on the train but can surreptitiously purchase erotic titles without fear of raising any eyebrows or inviting distasteful looks from snooty shopkeepers. According to the Romance Writers of America, romance fiction was the largest share of the U.S consumer market in 2011 at 14.3 percent, with a third of all titles being purchased in digital form. That’s a staggering $1.368bn in sales.

As far as the success of the Fifty Shades trilogy goes, it would seem that everyone and anyone is trying to ride that bandwagon to the bank. With a reported Hollywood movie in the pipeline, as well as a CD of music from the book and even a line of lingerie and erotic toys, where can we expect the erotic fiction genre to go next? I mean, reading erotic fiction secretly on an e-reader is one thing, do we really expect people to go and see a borderline pornographic movie in the cinema together? That may just be a step too far.

But though there are women who like to read their saucy stories in private, there will always be those with a screw-the-world-and-what-it-thinks attitude. If you align yourself with the latter category then it may be worth checking out the Smart Bitches Trashy Books blog. These are girls who love their romance fiction and aren’t afraid to shout it from the rooftops. Like their tagline says, “All of the romance, none of the bullshit”. Nicely put, ladies.

Stacey Hill is currently enrolled in the MA Publishing programme at Kingston University. You can read her thoughts about the Publishing world in her personal blog: Publishing Student.


One response to “E-rotic e-reading

  1. Pingback: Road-tests, learning opportunities and contacts: how a publishing MA helps in the real world | Kingston Publishing: inspiring future publishers·

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