Ever read any black urban erotic chick lit? How about wordy-porn featuring shape-shifting werewolves? No? Surely you must have picked up the S&M re-imagining of Robin Hood? Because it's masterworks like these that may revitalize publishing.

Apparently erotic books with names like Thong on Fire, by an author named Noire, who writes about "black American characters living in big cities and facing gritty drama, often involving crime, with erotic experiences," are one of the few growth areas in publishing.

Random House, Penguin, Kensington and Simon and Schuster are among the houses that have started imprints for authors like Noire. The average customer is a "middle class woman under 40," although increasing numbers of men are also locking the door before picking up their nightly reading, says author Brian Alexander. Kensington Books, with an unfortunate choice of phrase, say the market has "exploded," while San Francisco's Cleis Press has seen a sales increase of 56 per cent.

It's not just those who enjoy "gritty drama, often involving crime, with erotic experiences." that are contributing. Twihards and bodice-fetishists are also doing their part. Wolf Tales VIII, by Kate Douglas, apparently "opens with a male-male-female threesome." (We have to ask: which one is the wolf?) And here's the blurb for Bound by Honor, by a lady called Colette Gale:

At court, Marian is torn between her duty to the queen and her desire for two men: one, the mysterious highwayman the peasants call Robin Hood, and the other, the dark, cold Sheriff of Nottingham. Given an impossible choice, she must submit to the carnality of Prince John's court in order to fulfill her duty and maintain her honor.