E-readers endulge in erotica

E-READING devices may be the real spice behind the recent explosion in popularity of the erotic romance genre.

The coupling of e-books with erotica has given readers a way to access and digest literature discreetly, giving flick to the tell-tale raunchy covers that have exposed people's love affair with erotica in the past.

Christine Leov-Lealand of Quintessence Publications said the anonymous nature of buying books online means "you can buy something as scandalous and naughty as your wildest dreams and there's no shame attached, nobody's going to raise their eyebrows at you".

About 50% of the e-book market was erotica, compared to 20% for general fiction. Susan Edwards, chief of erotica publisher Ellora's Cave, said there was virtually no erotic romance genre before electronic books.

"There were lots of romance books and some erotic books in bookstores, but e-books and erotic romance have essentially grown up together," she said.

Traditional romance publishers, Mills & Boon, were one of the first UK publishers to switch to electronic publishing and now sell more e-books than printed books, with the release of 100 e-books per month. Mills & Boon's saucier offshoot Spice, sells more electronic copies than hard copies, while it is the opposite with the milder Modern series.

Mills & Boon author Sharon Kendrick attributes e-books' popularity to ease of storage. "Mills & Boon are an intense reading experience that can be read quickly," she said. "People read four to five in a few days so that's a lot of books to carry around."

And with the lightweight nature of e-books, the only sign of exertion will come from flushed cheeks behind the glow of the e-reader.

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