During the mid to late 1990s, virtually all of my reading was done on the New York City subway as I commuted daily from Queens into Manhattan. As anyone who’s ridden the subway during rush hour knows, there is no such thing as personal space on a train. My fellow straphangers, bold as they were, would not only read over my shoulder but actually lean into me to better see what I was reading, and even sigh impatiently while waiting for me to turn a page. Eventually I got used to it, and even grew to accept it.
For those unfamiliar with the book, it’s a short story collection. And the subtitle is “Erotica by Anaïs Nin.” In big letters. And this particular book captured a little more attention than I might normally have gotten on my morning commute.
And so I enjoyed reading Shannon Donnelly’s blog from The Daily Beast called Sex on the Kindle, which focuses on the fact that an e-reader has yet another advantage over print books: “it renders embarrassing-to-read books anonymous.”
With e-books, readers of genres from fantasy to romance will enjoy new anonymity, particularly when reading on planes and trains — and many publishers expect to see sales to be boosted by this. Tim Holman of the Orbit Books imprint of Hachette notes that, thanks to fantasy genre packaging that often features such images as dragons or bosomy females, “I can see certainly there will be people who feel they haven’t bought science fiction and fantasy because they don’t like the way that it looks, but obviously they don’t have that barrier when it comes to the Kindle.”
But keep in mind that if you buy an e-reader to hide what you’re reading, it can also work against you. Donnelly relays a cautionary tale: “[Author Sarah Wendell] says that one of her friends recently got a Kindle to hide her erotic romance leanings. ‘She said, “Now I have an e-book reader and no one knows what I’m reading, unless I activate the Kindle text-to-speech and the Kindle starts telling me about someone’s cock.”‘”
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