Yesterday the Book Bench brought up the idea that e-books give readers the freedom to indulge in guilty pleasure books they might otherwise be embarassed to be seen reading in public, namely bodice-ripper romance novels with a shirtless Fabio riding a horse on the cover. I've written about this before in response to a Motoko Rich article from the Times about the social signaling and marketing aspects of book covers that are lacking in e-books:
Rich focuses on the diminished importance of the cover and how publishers are dealing with it, but what about situations where the opposite is true? What if you don’t want people to know what you’re reading? Say you have a secret love for science fiction and fantasy novels, but you don’t want that cute girl on the bus to mark you as a dice-rolling geek. Or maybe you want to read that smash bestseller too but don’t want to look like a lemming. Digital books solve that problem. It’s the modern version of hiding Dad’s Playboy inside Mom’s copy of Life.
It's a shame, because I have a thing for crappy fantasy novels and my favorite series isn't available in e-book versions yet.