This is evident as The Perfect Submissive, Body Temperature And Rising and Dark Desires, the titles published by British specialist publisher Xcite, were unashamedly on display in the bustling corridors of the Frankfurt Book Fair, the world’s biggest publishing event that closed on Sunday.
The erotic book is “an ideal genre for e-books”, said Peter Ferris, non-executive director at Accent Press, whose imprint Xcite is the biggest British erotica publisher.
“Print book sales were starting to decline. Getting into the major book stores was difficult. Some stores are not happy to take them and the buyers are very hard to reach,” News24 quoted him as saying.
And then Fifty Shades of Grey came along.
The 2011 erotic novel by British author EL James was the first part of a trilogy about a relationship between a college graduate and a young business magnate and has sold tens of millions of copies worldwide.
Since Fifty Shades of Grey started to top the bestseller lists, ebook sales have undergone “a very large increase” and made erotic literature more publicly acceptable, Ferris said.
“It raised the attention level or people’s awareness of erotica. It made it more mainstream, more acceptable. It’s no longer something you don’t talk about, it’s in the bestsellers’ charts,” he said.
Xcite now expects its ebook sales to be three times higher than the printed book sales this year.
Germany’s Jolanta Gatzanis, editor in charge of erotic literature at the publishing house that bears her name, said e-books had been flying off the digital shelves, and without having to be promoted.
“We sold a lot of electronic books this year without doing much publicity. That really surprised us,” she said.
In Germany, no fewer than 4 000 erotic reference books for adults are currently available on the internet, albeit of varying quality, said Roman Jansen-Winkeln, of Satzweiss, a services’ provider for publishers and authors.
Women predominantly read this genre of books, the publishers agreed.
Jansen-Winkeln said he believed more than 80 percent of readers of erotic literature were female.
“We don’t actually see the gender of the customer but... the writing itself is aimed at women, and it’s written mostly by female authors who are writing for women,” said Ferris, of Accent Press which also publishes thrillers and cook books.
Discretion could be the key.
With no cover on display, an ereading device such as a Kindle makes the literature anonymous to the outside world, Giada Armani, who heads up erotic literature publishing house Giadas.
“I think that women have always wanted to read erotic literature. But what woman brandishes an erotic book in the underground or at work whose cover displays the silhouette of a naked man?” she said.
And, as Ferris pointed out, the reader can also retain their own anonymity by downloading e-books without having to go into a shop.
“You can even erase it once you’re finished so nobody knows what you’ve been reading,” he said.