HarperCollins UK is launching Mischief Books, a digitally exclusive erotica imprint, in an effort to capture its share of the growing erotica eBook market.
Makes sense to me.
Whether you read it or not, erotica has been an integral part of the publishing landscape since Japanese artisans created erotic Shunga woodblock prints in the mid-17th century. Even before that, erotic stories and art were being bantered about, from the ancient Greeks and Romans (who delighted in dirty little stories) to the even more ancient Venus of Hohle Fels which is estimated to be 35,000 years old.
Human beings are sexual creatures, and as such they seem to delight in stories which titillate and arouse their sexual desires. Time was, you had to visit a special store to buy erotic materials, often in secret and usually late at night when you hoped you wouldn't bump into anyone you knew. Because although erotica is the most common form of art in the history of human culture, it is also something we (as modern humans) generally prefer to keep private.
That's what makes eBooks the perfect format for distributing erotic materials. If you have an ereader and an internet connection you can order and read your material in the privacy of your own home (or wherever you happen to have your ereader) without worrying about someone else seeing you.
There is also something to be said for the fact that the stories contained within erotic literature have historically been some of the finest work created by writers. When Anne Rice wrote the "The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy" she re-invented the classic fairy tale in ways no one had ever imagined and re-kindled the fire of erotic literature that has since turned into a blazing inferno.
Today erotic eBooks represent the fastest growing, most profitable sector of electronic publishing, so it seems unlikely it will be going away any time soon. In the meantime mainstream publishers like HarperCollins UK are once again struggling to keep up with the changes wrought by smaller eBook publishers.
Maybe one day traditional publishers will again take the lead in eBooks, but that day still seems a long way off.
Have you published any erotic eBooks or are you considering writing one?