People used to think that e-readers like Nooks, Kindles, and iPads would allow users to read YA novels like Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games in public without shame. Of course, the truth is that no one is ashamed of reading those books, but that doesn't mean the shiny new toys didn't change our reading habits. We just should have realized the changes would have more to do with sexy time than chaste teenage love triangles. (In retrospect, that really should have been obvious.)

With female-marketed erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey currently perched atop the Amazon bestseller list for e-books, the Wall Street Journal looked into just how much women specifically are getting into such smutty books now that no one else can see the covers. The answer is: a lot! Screw abstinence vampires; what adult women really want is some straight-up fucking. With happy endings (of both senses), of course:

Electronic readers, and the reading privacy they provide, are fueling a boom in sales of sexy romance novels, or "romantica," as the genre is called in the book industry.

As with romance novels, romantica features an old-fashioned love story and pop-culture references like those found in "chick lit." Plus, there is sex — a lot of it. Yet unlike traditional erotica, romantica always includes what's known as "HEA" — "happily ever after."

Quick side note: let's not let "romantica" happen, please. Not everything needs its own portmanteau. Moving on.

Sales of erotic (and romance) titles have boomed with the advent of digital readers, mostly because you no longer have to deal with some bored college student with a part-time job at the Barnes & Noble giving you a side-eye when you try to purchase a copy of Tempted. What started as a boom for independent presses and self-published titles isn't being ignored by the big guys, of course: HarperCollins and Penguin, for instance, are both getting into the game.

So once again, shock of shocks, we find out that women also happen to really like sex! Reading about it furtively on the subway, certainly. (They might even like having it.) It's a crazy new world, everyone, so don't assume that stranger with a Kindle is smiling because of Julie & Julia.

Commentarium (7 Comments)

Mar 14 12 - 5:23pm

I've read an insane number of trashy novels since getting my iPad. It's like a brown paper cover for those bodice ripping covers.

Mar 15 12 - 12:14am

Man that quote is awful. It's like written by someone who just discovered that romance novels/erotica exist and were unaware that most romance novels already included a lot of sex.

Mar 15 12 - 12:26am

My friend's dad writes romance/erotica so I'm excited that his sales will be going up. :]

Mar 15 12 - 12:31pm

50% of paperback novel sales are Romance; Those books where the cover art is a picture of some guy that looks like Fabio. Anyone saying that "women are getting into smut" needs to stop and think for a minute - they've always read it...

Mar 15 12 - 3:01pm

..but do they masturbate to it?

Mar 15 12 - 8:58pm


Mar 18 12 - 12:33am

Guess what? A lot of GUYS are now reading this stuff, too; and prior to the Kindle and other e-readers, we wouldn't be caught DEAD with one of those bodice-ripper books. Been a huge SciFi reader all my life; now have more romantica/hardcore sex story stuff in there than SciFi!