Sales of bodice-ripping e-books soar

From today's 'Daily Mail':

Secret romantics are sending sales of passionate Mills and Boon-style novels soaring as they rush to download the bodice-rippers for their electronic books.

Commuters too shy to read the slushy tales, with their soft-focus paperback covers of hunky heroes, have been buying the stories online and consuming the love stories electronically instead. New figures from market researchers Nielsen BookScan show digital sales of the genre have overtaken print copies for the first time – which the gadget users can read without anyone else knowing.

Bestselling romantic author Talli Roland said she could see why some people might not want to be seen on the bus or the train with a Mills and Boon style novel in their hand. ‘There is a stigma attached – fairly or not – to reading romance novels,’ she said.

‘A lot of professional people on the Tube probably don’t want their hunky heroes splashed across their covers for everyone to see.’ She told The Times: ‘There is an element of hiding it away so you’re a bit less conspicuous about it.’

 According to Nielsen BookScan, just two per cent of all printed books sold in 2009 were romantic novels, compared with 14 per cent of all e-books sold. Catherine Jones, from the Romantic Novelists’ Association, said people had preconceived ideas on the type of readers who enjoy romantic novels.

‘Women who read Mills and Boon are no more frustrated spinsters than crime-novel readers are mass murderers,’ she told The Times. ‘There’s an assumption about people who read and write these books that is misplaced. But once you have that mindset it’s difficult to overcome it. With e-readers, it’s ideal because no one can see what you’re reading.’

On Christmas Day, more people activated new Kindles, downloaded Kindle applications and bought ebooks than on any previous day. Retailers are keen to cash in, with many romance novels costing much less as a digital version. The Kindle store has a big selection of bosom-heaving tales for under £1.

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