What's your guilty book pleasure?

A new poll of British readers has found that people who tended to buy "high-brow" physical books (autobiographies, political memoirs and classical fiction), were more likely to buy "low-brow" titles (thrillers and mysteries, romance, humour, and science fiction and fantasy) when shopping for e-books. Sales of erotic fiction ebooks had also increased.

Worse, the poll revealed that 55 per cent of those who bought high-brow titles, had read fewer than a third of those books. One in ten admitted that they had never read any.

This is not to say that no one reads high-brow books. The top two bestsellers on Amazon's e-book chart on the 27th of  October were Booker Prize winner Julian Barnes' The Sense of an Ending and by Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs. However, it seems that when people aren't concerned about their image, they are more likely to indulge in the kind of fiction that has been popular for as long as books have been written.

Currently African literature is dominated by "high-brow" literary fiction. This was a consequence of the demise of many local publishing houses in the 80s. But, spurred by a growing private sector, local "low-brow" literature is making a comeback.

In South Africa, the Sapphire Press romance series is a regular bestseller. Reprints of the 70s-era Nigerian thriller series, Pacesetters, continues to sell strongly online. And early last year, the novels of British thriller writer James Hadley Chase were re-released with new covers featuring African models.

It makes one wonder, is it really trashy if everyone's reading it? So tell us, what's your secret reading pleasure?


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