There’s no question that bodice rippers, or their M/M equivalent, wife-beater rippers (okay, yes, I just made that up, LOL) enjoy a large portion of the fiction market today. Even in these challenging economic times the market for romance fiction has stayed relatively strong. The reasons for this are varied. But I think the main reason is that in our fast-paced, digital world it’s getting harder and harder for people to connect in a meaningful way. Romance can be in short supply. Books are a low-priced, high value ticket to a world where no problem is too big and love conquers all. There’s no question that fiction romance stories are a thriving business that will continue to grow. My question is related to whether romance fiction would have such a stronghold on the marketplace if it weren’t for electronic books. I don’t think they would.
One of the biggest reasons stated for reading books on an electronic device is so that you can read in complete anonymity. Though many of us proudly read romance novels, sweet through erotic, there are probably just as many secret romance readers who love that they can read a steamy book on their Nook or Kindle and nobody ever need know. You can read these books in the doctor’s office, while waiting on line at the DMV, or in front of your stick-up-the-ass relatives with complete comfort. By contrast, women used to hide their romance novels in their bedside table drawers or cover them with book cozies so no one could see the sexy male chest and heaving bosoms decorating the cover. Digital technology has been both an enabler and a multiplier for this popular genre.
Another aspect of this is the volcanic growth of sub-genres in romance. The popularity of glbt fiction, erotica and bdsm have definitely been assisted by the anonymity of digital reading. People are much more likely to try something they view as unconventional if they can do it in private.
Of course we all know that digital books are generally cheaper, they don’t take up room on your shelves and you don’t have to dust them (my personal favorite). Now you can add expansion of your reading horizons to that already enticing list, making it easy to see why much of the world is turning digital for its reading pleasure.