50 Shades of Spam

For the last month I have spent the first moments of each online day deleting 50 shades of spam.

As part of being a Boomerang blogger, I keep an eye on book news. I’m signed up to a lot of publishers and author’s websites and newsletters, and get lots of information on new book releases. Normally I quite like browsing what will soon be out but recently it feels like unless I’m into badly-written smut, I’m out of luck.

I used to enjoy checking my email in the morning but . I can’t be the only person worn down by receiving calls to awaken my kinky side when I haven’t even awakened a putting-on-pants side? Who wants to contemplate tying someone up with a clothes-line when you haven’t even had coffee yet? If I tried it, pre-caffeination, I’d be more likely to peg tomorrow’s work shirt to them and accidentally leave them tied up, trussed and covered in clean laundry, when I sprint out the door late to work 5 mins later.

I may not want to read it, but no ones told the various publishers that. There’s an increasing level of desperation to tie completely unrelated books to the theme. A cookbook that involves a few allusions to food as plaything or aphrodisiac is “like 50 Shades of Grey …but with saucy recipes!” A political memoir that – very briefly – catalogues an love affair is “like 50 Shades of Grey …but set in the halls of power!

Publishers everywhere must be warning would-be autobiographers to get their kink on before they write up their story. “Well, yes, Sir Attenborough, the nature stuff and broadcasting history is all very interesting, but what we really want to know is have you ever used your tent’s guide rope for… other purposes?” You can only imagine their disappointment when they discovered his most recent release, Drawn from Paradise, is actually about the birds and not some variety of lewd art.

Sometimes, in the urge to tie their own book to the phenomena that is 50 Shades, the message in the email gets somewhat …confusing. Another book with slightly better writing and actual plot is described as “50 Shades of Grey for grown-ups” – because the original 50 Shades was clearly meant to be kid’s book. Go on, buy it for your nieces and nephews this silly season and see if you ever get invited back for Christmas dinner ever again.

It’s 50 Shades of… delete. Delete, delete and delete some more. If I want to read erotica with a BDSM theme, I’ll pick something slightly better written, thanks. (I’ve had the Kushiel series by Jacqueline Carey recommended, as well as Tobsha Learner and Anais Nin, and do feel free to recommend your own favourite in the comments if you think I am missing some.)

It’s not like this is the first time this has happened. The last few years have been, variously, the 50 Shades of Harry Potter, 50 Shades of Da Vinci and The Secret and Jodi Picoult, and, of course, 50 Shades of fecking Twilight. I think the thing that annoys me so much is I thought we were were finally over Twilight and now it’s snuck back on again with the names changed.

Look, I understand it’s popular. I don’t understand why it is so popular but as it’s apparently the bestselling Australian book since records began it’s a safe bet that EL James isn’t crying herself to sleep at night over my opinion.

But if my distaste isn’t ruining her nights, oh how I wish her ebook would stop putting me right off my breakfast. Here’s to the next big thing – may it be released soon and please, please, don’t let it be more Twilight fan-fiction or I think I may be off to buy some clothesline and pegs so I can string a few people up.