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"Lee Duran: ‘50 Shades’ highlights gray area for romantic genres"

on Saturday, 05 May 2012. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

The Joplin Globe

JOPLIN, Mo. — When you say “romance novels,” you’re covering a whole lot of territory. From sweet to BDSM (which I looked up: It stands for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism), romance books fly off the shelf faster than any other genre.

You have doubts? Here are the facts from Romance Writers of America:

Romance fiction brought in $1.358 billion in estimated revenue for 2010.

Religion/inspirational: $759 million

Mystery: $682 million

Science fiction/fantasy: $559 million

Classic literary fiction: $455 million

And these facts don’t account for independently published e-books because RWA doesn’t recognize them. What passed for sexy romance back in the ‘80s is tame stuff today. Leading the charge is a book which, some speculate, has created a whole new genre -- which I don’t see as possible considering how far the romance novels labeled “erotica” have already gone.

“50 Shades of Gray” by E. L. James is either erotica or porn, depending on who you ask. It’s also a New York Times bestseller “because women across the world are enamored with the book,” according to

The novel has become an international smash, but “are thousands of women buying a book that encourages them to submit to male domination?” wonders.

Some call it mommy porn, which outraged a writer at She calls that label “the worst term ever invented. Ever.” She also calls the book “soft core BDSM,” a new genre of literature. This is better than mommy porn? ...

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