Lusty Literature on the Rise

While much of the recent mainstream media attention on erotica has been focused on the increase in Internet and cable delivered pornography, rumblings are now being heard about the proliferation of books about sex and the sex industry.

This is hardly surprising, as a search at reveals 16,240 listings for books about sex. This is as mainstream as it gets, and this lusty literature ranges the gamut from the classic "Joy of Sex" to Jenna Jameson's "How to Make Love Like a Porn Star," to Pamela Anderson's "Star," and Martin Amis' book "Pornoland" which took readers on a tour of the world wide sex industry. As Amis put it, "Whatever porno is, whatever porno does, you may regret it, but you cannot reject it. To paraphrase Falstaff: banish porno, and you banish all of the world."

"60 Minutes" recently aired a piece which featured Judith Regan of ReganBooks commenting on the "porno-ization of the culture," which laid responsibility for the up swell in sexually themed publishing on the increasing mainstream acceptability of adult materials, driven by the widespread availability of Internet pornography and explicit cable and satellite television programming.

The nation's biggest publishers are also cashing in, fueling the growth of this phenomena. Rupert Murdoch owns ReganBooks, and Time Warner's Bullfinch Press is marketing the book "XXX" along with an HBO documentary entitled "Thinking XXX". HBO is also owned by Time Warner.

According to "The Japanese Art of Sex" publisher Jaime Starling of Stonebridge Press, "You can thank Kenneth Starr for bringing sexually explicit books into the mainstream," referring to the Special Prosecutor's report which revealed intimate accounts of then President Clinton's sexual escapades. The Monica Lewinsky scandal and other indiscretions led to The Starr Report becoming a best-seller and making mainstream bookstores more open to this level of sexually explicit material. It was an official government report, after all.

While there is much worthwhile literature included among the fare currently being offered, only time will tell how long the public will be willing to accept it – and bring it on to the bestseller lists.