Bad Girl, Good Business

Sex Sells

Reading Time: 3 minutes

“Porn” and profits.

They go together like Masters & Johnson and Lady Chatterley and her Lover. (Of course, the term “porn” is the eye of the beholder. Here’s a very dry and clinical definition by PBS. It’s enough to suck all the eroticism out of the word.)

The industry is estimated to be $13 billion in the U.S. alone, and porn sites make up 12% of web content, probably beating out silly cat videos. Clearly, porn and profits are a match made in heaven. The peep show has just moved to the web, which has resulted in an increase in peepers, but a decrease in profits.

Why this sudden interest in the prurient side of business? I recently visited Book Expo America (BEA — the giant publishing trade show) and was blown away (no pun intended) at how erotica is not only out in the open, but it’s now an official literary and entertainment genre. No brown paper wrappers or Kindle cover-ups required.  The 50 Shades of Grey series set a speed record for selling 1,000,000 copies. In terms of films, R seems to be the new X (although X was converted to NC-17 over a decade ago). Here’s an explanation of today’s rating system.

Why are we as a society so consumed with “dirty” books and movies? Is it that they are still viewed as guilty pleasures? According to WebMD, men are hardwired to enjoy them. Researchers are now even studying women’s porn viewing behavior to glean insights into the unclean parts of their brains. (Check out this video series on the study.)

Statistics aside, this is the naked truth…people are turned on by forbidden things. And so is our economy. Every time a celebrity’s nipples are bared, we all seem to click on the link as if we’ve never seen nips before. Click, peep, trending, ka-ching.

P.S. I bet more people read this blog post than the last few.

BGGB.OkeyDokey-fred Best seller stats: The “50 Shades of Grey” infographic
BGGB_ShakingHands Masters meet Johnson: 100 Years of sex in one cool fact-packed picture.
BGGB_Thumbs-Down-fred Banned and challenged books throughout the ages
BGGB_Pointer The top-grossing NC-17 movies of all time




100 Years of Sex: A Shout-Out to Masters & Johnson in infographic form


One Comment

  1. […] things that used to be considered taboo are now fairly mainstream. But the timeless reality is that sex sells — whether it’s in a provocative ad…a film…a retail store…a […]


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