Because they can’t see the cover art…

kindle reading on the underground

The Guardian reports how the first ebook charts reported in June are filled with smut erotic fiction.

She reigns supreme in the world of paper, with The Cuckoo’s Calling topping hardback sales and The Casual Vacancy sitting at the top of the paperback bestseller charts, but there’s no space for JK Rowling on the inaugural ebook bestseller list. Instead the top 50 UK ebook chart –compiled by the Bookseller from publishers’ reports – is filled with erotic fiction, with the latest in Sylvia Day’s raunchy Crossfire series installed at No 1.

As someone who has lived in London for over a decade, I’ve seen the amazing growth in popularity of ereaders – especially on the tube. Watching what people read on public transport used to be a favourite pastime of mine. Now, all you see is a sea of Kindles (other ereaders are available) in various leather/plastic covers.

You can’t tell what people are reading.

I used to enjoy making up backstories for the people on the tube, based on what they were reading.

Let me rephrase that.

I used to enjoy making gross assumptions about the lifestyle choices of people on the tube, based on what they were reading.

You know the kind of thing.

I’d inwardly tut and sigh when I saw grown adults reading children’s books. Smile when I saw someone engrossed in a novel I’d recently enjoyed.

Go slightly goggle-eyed when I saw someone openly reading “ladies’ erotic fiction” on the Jubilee Line.

Taking a step back, most of these people will have walked into their local bookstore to buy this. I have to wonder how many shoppers balked at the thought of taking some of the aforementioned lady-porn up to the counter and make eye-contact with the shop assistant.

Who would, no doubt, make the same assumptions I used to do. Possibly accompanied with an unsavoury smirk.

Now, ereaders give you the freedom to buy what you want, wherever you want and read whatever filth you like – leaving your fellow passengers none the wiser.

I therefore propose that this growth in the popularity of “Fifty Shade” type derivative crap is because you can buy – and read – it anonymously.

That said, I was squashed up against a lady on the Central Line last week who was reading her Kindle. She’d increased the font size to such an extent that I could easily read it.

And let me tell you this…it was filthy.

Good for her, getting a thrill on the monotonous journey to the office.

People of London – buy all the erotic fiction / nonsense mystery / ham-fisted thrillers you like on your Kindle (other ereaders are available) and read it in public.

Nobody has a clue what you’re reading.

And life’s too short to pretend you’re enjoying high-brow nonsense your colleagues are waxing lyrical about.

As for me, I’ll just have to revert to the state of someone’s shoes as a marker of social status and lifestyle choices.

  1. Lovely post!

    Not as popular here but still VERY popular. One thing I find interesting is most who own one leave it at home…unless you go to a wifi cafe, then you see tablets or smaller ereaders pop out.

    I guess this is because it’s seen as an expensive (for here) item to flail about publicly. And I’m basing this upon eye rolls when I take mine out to read in queues or waiting rooms.

    I believe if free wifi were available in towns, you’d see more simply because then it’s the least dear item one can own to get online.

    Truly believe this is a social status thing and out here, if you have something nice? Hide it. Kids’ll beat you up and take it, thieves’ll take it and adults pishposh you for ‘extravagance.’

    Different area? Different story. -see what I did?

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  2. I posted a while back about what people were reading on the train I was on. I finished on a plea for Kindle users to place a post-it note on the back with title and author details so I could spy on their reading preference more easily… sadly, I haven’t seen this trend take off….
    http://fennellbooks.co.uk/journal/2013/5/28/readers-on-a-train

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  3. […] maybe I could finally delve into the world of erotic fiction that seems to be so popular on Kindles. […]

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