x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Low-end literature floods e-book market

Fans of the light-romance genre characterised by Mills and Boon books have taken to e-books like ducks to water.

Not even drowning will help with an e-book addiction to sentimental literature. Ethan Miller / Getty Images / AFP
Not even drowning will help with an e-book addiction to sentimental literature. Ethan Miller / Getty Images / AFP

Fans of granite jaw lines and eyes burning (not literally) with passion are, it seems, also getting quite into their technology. News reaches us that readers of trashy Mills and Boon-esque romance novels are flocking to e-books for their fix of hunky farmhands, dashing doctors and suave Arts & Life columnists (and why not?).

According to the market research outfit Nielsen BookScan, digital sales of the genre have passed print copies for the first time, and while nobody can really say for sure, the main reason is believed to be one thing: shame. Reading slushy romance novels = not cool. Reading slushy romance novels via a Kindle = still not cool, but nobody can tell.

And with such book titles as The Temp and the Tycoon, His Forbidden Passion and Powerful Greek, Unworldly Wife, surely even the most self-assured person would not want the people around knowing what they were thumbing through.

But, if this applies to romance, surely we should see similar stats from far more criminal interpretations of the word "literature". Are e-books featuring the word "shopaholic" in their titles overtaking print sales? Footballer biographies? Anything by Dan Brown?

To be honest, it seems rather deceitful that readers of such garbage can hide behind their clever digital displays. What if you were accidentally to strike up a conversation with someone in the mistaken belief they were giggling through War and Peace, and not Wayne Rooney: My Story So Far? I'd like to suggest a coloured light on the back of the box that indicates the book type: green for good, red for rubbish. And brown for The Da Vinci Code.