One of the lovely things about the e-book reader is the fact that it lets one read whatever one wants with perfect anonymity, anywhere one wants, and no one knows whether you’re reading Three Men in a Boat -- okay, the might think that’s a gay ménage, anyway -- er, Les Miserables, or As She's Told. Or anything in between. Men can now read romances in public. Women can now read porn. Yay, freedom!
Of course, before the e-book reader, there was the book cover, but book covers just meant people assumed you were reading smut no matter what, and would crane to get a better look. At least, that’s what I assumed they’d do. The one person I know who used book covers was actually reading SF novels most of the time, and I know because I craned.
There’s a good side and a bad side to this, of course. The bad side is that you’re less likely to meet someone with similar interests, but the internet provides those opportunities in abundance. All you have to do is read this blog! The good side is that you don’t have to worry that someone is going to decide that if you like “those kind of books” you might enjoy being stalked. I’m thinking the good outweighs the bad, and I think I’m only slightly prejudiced by the fact that I earn part of my living by selling e-books.
So there we are with our Kindle in hand, reading Comfort Object, sitting on the subway, secure in the fact that our expression and manner clearly indicates that we are a Jane Austen reader. It all seems like a good plan, until things start getting heated. Am I blushing? Will anyone notice my discreet little squirms? And how awkward it is when Nell is getting a good arse fucking and you feel like the young man next to you is reading every line, even though you know his angle makes that almost impossible?
Despite what I read and write, I’ve never felt like I knew what kind of books anyone else was reading on their e-reader. I might enjoy thinking they’re reading one of my books, but the odds aren’t especially good, and I know that. I have never ever thought, “Oh, that person’s clearly reading something that’s making them horny.” So my guess is that it is, in fact, perfectly fine to read that BDSM novel in public.
In fact... I think I may even get a perverse thrill from it. :)