Romance is the highest selling genre of fiction. In 2012, it was the largest share of the US consumer market, at 16.7 percent.
So why, then, is it such a goddamned “mystery” that supposedly ‘sensible, intelligent, strong’ women are flocking to Fifty Shades of Grey (and, apparently as a result, the erotic and romance market as a whole)?
Okay, let me rephrase that. Because damned if I can understand why Those Books are popular at all, once they’ve been read. I’m convinced the sales popularity is hype. Suddenly people are reading these supposed-romance/erotica books out in the open. As opposed to the common practices of romance-shame, like hiding your categories and historicals in your bedside table, or more recently, purchasing an e-reader so you can read them without anyone seeing the cover and judging you.
Thing is, nothing has really changed. Romance has BEEN the top-selling genre of fiction FOR YEARS.
People are buying FSoG, largely to see what the big deal is. At least, that’s my theory. The publishing and media industries don’t care what you do with them once you buy them. They don’t care if you liked them, just give them your damned money. They will ride that hype all the way to the box office, and take your money there, too.
In the meantime, this attitude that romance and erotica is some “big new thing” is sad and annoying. Sensible, strong, intelligent women have read romance and erotica long before James ever hit the market. And not because they wanted to shut off their huge, cumbersome brains or ‘indulge’ in something mindless. Romance is a legitimate genre. It’s a legitimate subject and interest. It’s about how people feel and relate and get along. There’s nothing stupid or mindless about it. Erotica – well written erotica and not just mindless porn, is complex, and stimulates the brain (the biggest erogenous zone of the body, anyone?). And if you really think sex and the topic of sex is mindless, I’d like to meet your partner, who is either failing or being failed, themselves.
Okay, yes, there are duds and embarrassments in the genre, just like in any genre. But please, for the love of god, stop legitimizing these idiots who are using the highest selling genre of fiction to once again belittle women as a whole.