Kindles are known for being cost-efficient and lightweight alternatives to traditional books, but there’s another perk to using one: secrecy.
Reading on a Kindle (or any e-reader!) lets you peruse through guilty pleasure stories without anybody around you having to know.
It’s the 21st century version of hiding an embarrassing book behind a book jacket from a different, more reputable tale.
Kindle advantage: People on the subway can’t judge you by the embarrassing/dorky book you’re reading.
— Christopher Fahey (@chrisfahey) April 21, 2011
We asked some Business Insider staffers if they were hiding any guilty pleasures on their Kindles. Turns out, many are enjoying books thanks to the safety of e-reader screens.
The most popular response was “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the 2011 romance trilogy that brought BDSM into mainstream media. “I wouldn’t be caught dead reading it in book-form, but on a Kindle it was easily disguised!” explained one BI reporter about their “Fifty Shades” experience. She asked to remain anonymous.
A lady is shamelessly reading fifty shades of grey on the subway girl get a kindle or something
— Majed Alnabulsi (@meeej) January 8, 2015
Digital readers were a major element in the book’s success. “Fifty Shades of Grey” sold six times as many Kindle e-books as it did actual books in 2012.
That makes sense — I personally bought the trilogy and read it on my Kindle but would have never purchased the paperbacks.
Using an e-reader also allows you to avoid making unintentional statements with your literary choices.
“I kind of cringe whenever I see people reading really political books,” another one of my coworkers said. “I was sitting next to some girl reading ‘Clinton Cash‘ on a bus this weekend and thought, ‘I wouldn’t want people to know/assume my political views based on a book cover.'”
Self-help books were also a popular category for private Kindle reading. For example, Business Insider senior editor Molly Mulshine used her Kindle to read “Naturally Thin: Unleash Your Skinnygirl and Free Yourself From a Lifetime of Dieting.”
Mulshine says the book, a diet plan written by Bethenny Frankel, would have been just too embarrassing to read publicly.
Not all of my coworkers were as concerned about people knowing what they were reading, but they were concerned about people documenting them while they werereading. People and their books are often popular subjects on social media, such as this photography project featuring New York City subway riders.
“It’s not that I am so embarrassed by them as I just feel like I would be asking to end up in someone’s Snapchat story if I was caught reading ‘Why Men Love Bitches’ on the train,” BI deputy editor Caroline Moss said of a particular Kindle selection.
Whether your guilty pleasures are vampire novels or self-help manifestos, remember, you’re definitely not alone. Though, if you’re a grown adult reading books written for teenagers, it may be best to stick to screen reading to avoid internet shaming.
Business Insider’s personal-finance editor, Libby Kane, said she didn’t get too down about some of her reading choices.
“I generally don’t bother being embarrassed about books I read,” she said, “because they’ve been written, published, marketed, and sold — it’s not as though I am the only person who finds said book appealing.”