by Gwyneth Holland
They used to say that you can tell a lot about a person by the titles on her bookshelves, but now it seems you can tell even more about a person by the less worthy material hidden on her e-reader.
While great literature is available at knock-down prices on many e-book platforms, consumers are increasingly willing to shell out for less salubrious reading material. Genre fiction is reinvigorating parts of the publishing industry, as consumers choose romance, crime, supernatural and even erotic e-books without worrying that their lurid covers might give them away as less-than-intellectual readers. After all, the meek gray shell of a Kindle protects pulp lovers from the judging eyes of fellow Metro and Tube riders.
Romance novels, much derided over the years, have been so popular on e-readers that several UK publishers have added digital-only imprints. Romance giant Mills & Boon now publishes 100 novels digitally for every 55 print editions, while Ebury has set up e-imprint Rouge Romance, and Little, Brown has launched Piatkus Entice. And it’s not just the flouncy romances that are attracting eyeballs — the success of 50 Shades of Grey has revealed even deeper desires.
WHAT THIS MEANS TO MARKETERS
Digital formats free consumers to indulge their MultiMe interests. While they may proclaim to have sophisticated tastes, their download records reveal their true passions. With little concern for others’ opinions, they may try (and discard) several different entertainment genres; don’t assume that a consumer’s interest in one area precludes all others.
Micro-moment attitudes are just as important to entertainment and culture as they are to retail. Content that can be picked up and dropped easily is important when consumers are just looking for something to do. After all, a pulpy potboiler is easier to dip into than War and Peace.