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Bedded By The Greek BillionaireIt’s certainly not news that the rising tide of books in the so-called “mommy porn” genre are driving sales of e-books like nothing else that has come before them.

But a recent article in Ireland’s Belfast Telegraph explains that erotic fiction is resulting in many more e-book library loans, too. In one Irish community, according to the article, e-book library loans rose “from 16,231 in 2011 to 19,847 in 2012.”

And what was the area’s most popular library e-book in 2012? A steamy Harlequin romance by India Grey, titled At The Argentinean Billionaire’s Bidding.

Another Harelquin, Kate Walker’s Bedded by the Greek Billionaire, was the second most-borrowed e-book, with Barbara Dunlop’s Beauty And The Billionaire bringing up the rear (sorry) in third place. ”Romance novels are a guilty pleasure for some,” says Helyn Clack, the community services cabinet member for the community in question. “And they like the fact you can’t judge an e-reader by its cover.”

Mai Teaches Health and Physical education: A Sex Encyclopedia for MenTrue enough. And I have to admit, I wasn’t terribly surprised when a simple Google search turned up a similar article about actual e-book sales in Japan. Published on a site called Rocket News 24, this particular article, which ran in mid-December 2012, starts out by explaining that e-books and e-readers still aren’t particularly popular in the Land of the Rising Sun—with one exception: e-books containing “… cheap, trashy or sexual content.” As this article claims, “the majority of Japan’s e-book market is comprised of distinctly low-brow, often sexual, content.”

Take a look at this claim, from the same story:

“At the end of the fiscal year 2011 the Japanese digital publishing market was worth approximately 7.5 million US dollars; a figure that is in itself 3.2% lower than that of the previous year. Of this $7.5 million, sales of BL [boys' love] and TL [teen love] content make up an incredible 80%. In other words, $6 million was spent in one year on erotic manga contents.”

The mainstream media, by the way, is full-to-overflowing with news stories of the same ilk: “Nook ereaders and erotic fiction help B&N,” says this Financial Times story. “50 Shades of Grey puts ebooks in the black,” claims this item from Canada’s Toronto Star. My personal favorite, however, is a piece from Business Insider, “Discrete EBooks Have Unlocked A Huge Erotic Fiction Market, which features a photo of book rack filled with porn novels and a caption that reads, “No need to look like a pervert!”

Tim Berners-Lee

Of course, considering that e-books are still a relatively new technology—at least in the grand scheme of technological progress—I’m not sure I’d be willing to make any grand proclamations about what this particular retail trend means. After all, let’s not forget what Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee once said about the subject:

“Legend has it that every new technology is first used for something related to sex or pornography. That seems to be the way of humankind.”

 
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