Ah, the beauty of e-readers: The person sitting next to you could be scrolling through anything: a crime novel, a recipe book, or the latest in erotica fiction.
The latter is certainly the case with the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, a controversial love story about a couple who engages in sadomasochism. Written by British author
E. L. James, the series’ first installment soared to the top of The New York Times e-book fiction bestseller list.
Though 90 percent of the book’s sales have been discreet e-book downloads, local women were still clamoring for it to hit the shelves, which it did last month.
“Before we got the book in, we had tons of women asking for it,” says Edward Whitfill, general manager of Ukazoo Books in Towson. “It’s a little surprising to see an erotica book go mainstream, but the romance genre keeps pushing the envelope.”
While most women aren’t bashful about asking for it in the bookstore, there is, of course, some sheepishness that goes along with reading about bondage.
“I should probably have a little bit of shame in my game over this one,” writes Amanda at local blog Parenting by Dummies. “But I don’t have time for that noise! Say what you will, I’m not going to stop. I can’t. I won’t. I don’t freakin want to!”
At its core, the draw of the trilogy is simple—it’s a love story between a virginal college student and a handsome billionaire. Where things get more exciting is when you learn the man is into dominance.
“The first 10 percent of it is pretty awful,” admits Sara Russell of Columbia. “But once you get to the thick of it, it gets really intriguing. My friend and I call each other to see if our gasp moments are the same.”
These shock-value details are certainly the biggest part of the book’s allure and something that readers feel may broaden women’s sexual horizons.
“I think a lot of women are afraid to explore sexuality,” says Fells Point resident Barbara DiPietro. “These ideas are thrilling.”
While readers cite the book’s ability to transport them into a fantasy, another appeal is how it may impact their real lives.
“Let’s just put it this way,” DiPietro says. “My husband has never read the books, and it’s his favorite series.”