Ereaders and Erotica Are a Perfect Match

In News by Dennis Abrams

Ereaders and digital publishing continue to foster the market for the hardest forms of erotic fiction, a market traditional publishers fail to serve.

By Dennis Abrams

Raelene Gorlinsky, publisher of Ellora's Cave, pictured at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Raelene Gorlinsky, publisher of Ellora’s Cave, pictured at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

At The Guardian, Calum Marsh writes that “few benefits of the e-reader are as attractive as the privacy it inherently affords…you could be reading hardcore BDSM erotica on your Kindle or Kobo, but to your fellow commuters you might as well be poring over PG Wodehouse.”

Take, for example, the case of Tina Engler. Fifteen years ago, she started writing erotic fiction but was turned down by every publisher, each of who gave the same reason: “women don’t want to read about sex.”

Taking matters into her own hands (so to speak), she began her own publishing company, Ellora’s Cave. Since its launch, the publisher has become of the best known “purveyors of erotic on the market.”

Ellora’s Cave publisher Raelene Gorlinsky gives credit to ereaders for the company’s initial success. “Erotica,” she told The Guardian, “was around long before Ellora’s Cave, but it certainly wasn’t something you could buy at your local bookstore, because everybody looked down on it.”

Gorlinksy credits the launch of the Amazon Kindle in 2007 with the moment that erotic fiction took off. Ellora’s Cave, like most erotica publishers, is a “digital-fist publisher” which means that all titles are sold initially as ebooks, with the possibility of a print publication later. (Print titles, Gorlinsky said, are issued mostly to make authors happy — very few people it seems buy erotica in print.)

Emily Veinglory, an author of erotic fiction who also writes a blog covering the industry, told The Guardian that the popularity of ereaders among fans of erotica was also “just a function of necessity. Traditional publishing,” she added, “simply would not meet this market.”

Veinglory argues that the kind of “trumped-up romance novels” available on bookstore shelves don’t quite cut it for fans of erotic fiction. “When I read a Harlequin Blaze” — the well-known publisher’s “sexiest romance series,” according to their website — “I think: Oh, please. That’s their idea of erotic fiction? It doesn’t scratch the surface of what erotic ebooks are willing to offer you. You just can’t get these things in print.”

And while the subject matter can fall into any number of subgenres: gay vampires, bisexual cowboys, 18th-century transgender pirates, Santa’s elves, dinosaurs — really, the list is only limited by the human imagination — the bottom line, Veinglory says, is that the books help people understand that “sex is good and pornography is not evil.”

“A lot of people thought their dirty little secret of what they wanted to read made them a freak,” Veinglory told Marsh. “Then the internet showed them that there are a million freaks out there. Whatever you are into, there’s a whole lot of other people who are into that.”

About the Author

Dennis Abrams

Dennis Abrams is a contributing editor for Publishing Perspectives, responsible for news, children's publishing and media. He's also a restaurant critic, literary blogger, and the author of "The Play's The Thing," a complete YA guide to the plays of William Shakespeare published by Pentian, as well as more than 30 YA biographies and histories for Chelsea House publishers.