Despite the assurances that the success of E.L. James’ once-self-published erotica trilogy has translated into a wider acceptance of the genre to the reading public, sources still credit the series with the current increases in ebook sales. As erotica readers—who some sources say may be as high as eighty percent female—continue to enjoy the anonymity that digital publishing has brought purchasing and reading the genre, that may be resulting in wider adoption of digital in other areas of literature due to the ease and experience consumers have with purchasing ebooks.
In an interview with Business Insider, UK’s Accent Press explained how the trilogy may have been good for the industry of ebooks as a whole: “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.”
Speaking specifically of the once-taboo genre, Ferris said, “”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.”
This came as no secret to the romance and erotica publishing industry, as those were some of the first to adopt ebook-only and digital-first publishing. Harlequin, a mainstay of romance publisher, launched its Carina Press imprint to put high-quality romance ebooks on the market at an astounding rate of between four and ten titles per week, back at a time when some critics were still arguing the ebooks and digital reading were nothing more than a fad.
The lesson to take from it, though, is that digital erotica can only benefit the publishing industry, if it has an impact on other genres at all. Once digital erotica consumers are comfortable enough with their dedicated e-readers or reading apps for tablets, e-reading may become their preferred mode for purchasing other books in the future, leading to an increase in ebook sales in other fields.