In space, no one can tell you’re reading smut on that Kindle

by Parker Dupris

No one can tell on the train, either. Or in the carpool. Or when you take your Kindle to lunch. Or when you slip into bed with hubby and look all highbrow while you’re reading and he’s busy watching How I met Your Mother.

 

This is the Kindle Effect, as it relates to the marked increase of erotica sales.

 

Before Kindle, and when I say “Kindle” I also mean iPad, iPhone or Droid, Cloud Reader on your computer, The Nook, and any other way you can now read something digitally without anyone knowing by just watching you read what you’re reading, people always knew what you were reading. Now…  not so much.

 

Ahhhh, the smell of the paper page. The feel of a good book in your hand. The sense that you have the physical condensation of the author’s daydreams and effort there in your hand that you can read, carry, lend out or gift. It’s all so romantic, eh? The whole physical experience of books, I mean.

 

Okay. I don’t really buy into all that. I understand the sentiments when people tell me about them, usually when I’m talking about the Kindle, and it almost always sounds like pretentious, hipster nonsense to me. But I try not to judge. Much.

 

One thing you can also do with a real book is read the title of it when someone else is reading it. It definitely doesn’t take much, and I can probably do it while looking over their shoulder to because lots of physical books have the title on every page.

 

How many people do you suppose went to Borders ( remember Borders? I loved Borders ) and bought an erotica paperback or hardcover, then brought that book on the train with them?

 

“Why yes, I’m reading ‘Ropin’ them in’, it’s about gay cowboy werewolves. Yes, I know I don’t look gay, and I’m not sure I am. But I -really- like reading about gay cowboy werewolves, and my train commute is otherwise boring. Why yes, that’s two gay cowboy werewolves on the cover, embracing, staring lovingly into each others’ eyes, man-parts meshed together…”

 

You get the idea. The answer to the above question is “very fucking few.”

 

You had the occasional twit trying to hide a book of erotica behind the newspaper, or bending the binding back so that all you saw are words. These poor fringes were too enamored of smut not to buy it, but too self-conscious to read it out in the open. Thoroeu told us that ‘most men lead lives of quiet desperation. I wonder if he was thinking of these people?

 

Now we have Kindle, et al. People can read about gay cowboy werewolves all train ride long and no one is the wiser. No shifting about, wondering if everyone knows you have a book behind this paper. No more damaging or destroying books by folding them into origami swans just to read what Miles is doing with that stiff hemp rope to Taylor.

 

And the sales of erotica skyrocket. Electronic versions in particular of course, but the sales of physical erotica has also risen ( citation, here? )

 

This is good for all of us, this Kindle Effect. It gives readers the ability to read on the train without feeling ashamed. It increases the demand for erotica so more gets written and sold and read and requested. And it also creates a situation where authors can publish directly, as no pesky printing runs are involved.

 

But that’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish, as my grandmother used to say.