Sexy, Sexy Secrets: E-books and erotica

(Via SourceFed) Surreptitious stories storm the startled e-book market, sources say.  That is, it turns out that erotica is a major genre in e-book sales, doing massively better because it's easier to read erotic novels if you don't have to show off that shirtless dude on the cover when you're reading it in public.

When I first started thinking about the fact that e-books don't display the book's cover to passers-by, I imagined it to be a bad thing.  I mean, people reading your books in public is free advertising for an author, and that just goes away.  One of my relatively recent brain crack ideas was to sell e-book cases that had the covers of famous books screenprinted on them, so you could show off your literary taste.

But thinking about it, it's great that people are able to conceal what they're reading.  Not just because it's a leg up for traditionally shamed and marginalized genres like erotica, but because it can help every genre, and everyone, benefit from the reduced social pressure against reading certain kinds of books.

Social pressure is constant and subtle, and it can be hard to notice that you're being nudged away from certain kinds of books and towards others.  I remember that people made fun of me for several books I read in high school, including Dave Barry's "Complete Guide to Guys."  (Which is hilarious, but looking back on it highly gender-normative.)

The social implications of secrecy are complicated, and while I think ultimately it would be best if oppression about genres or selection of fiction were to fade, people need to be able to become immersed in a genre before they're going to stand up for it, and to do that, they have to be able to read it safely within their community.

So, another point in the pro-E-readers column.