In 21st Century Britain it’s finally become OK for women to talk about sex! On the high street, Ann Summers stores are now almost as common as Woolworths. Female-friendly boutiques like London’s Sh! and Sheffield’s Gash seem to spring up daily. These days even Good Housekeeping road-tests sex toys!
Female entrepreneurs are taking an increasingly active role in the sex industry and the demand for erotica produced by women for women is growing. But there’s a big gap in the market which up to now no-one has seriously addressed, because so far, black erotic fiction has been sourced solely from the States. US imports such as Zane’s Addicted and the anthologies Brown Sugar and Erotique Noir can be counted on one hand, but that’s all about to change… this month sees the first two releases from Brown Skin Books – a dynamic new imprint publishing intelligent erotic fiction written by British black women.
The first offerings in Brown Skin Books’ series of sophisticated, contemporary and quality erotica are Personal Business, by new writer Isabel Baptiste, and Body and Soul by Jade Williams. These will be followed in early 2004 by a slate of new titles, as well as a series of erotic short stories to be published in a forthcoming anthology and on the company’s website, www.brownskinbooks.co.uk. The website, as well as being an online international catalogue for Brown Skin Books, has also been designed to encourage and foster new writing talent. Always on the look-out for new authors, the site offers a prize of £500 to the winner of a short story competition and a fee of £1500 to the authors of accepted novels (plus a share of royalties on all subsidiary rights sales).
Brown Skin Books was founded by Vastiana Belfon, a Jamaican-born, Oxford educated, ex- Editor for the BBC’s Afro-Caribbean department and former television presenter. She has secured the backing of one of the publishing industry’s leading distributors, the Airlift Book Company, ensuring that Brown Skin Books are not only available in sex shops or specialist book stores but also in high street chains like Books Etc, Ottakars and Waterstones. The books are also listed on the Amazon.co.uk, Blackwells Online and WH Smith Online.
“Mainstream accessibility to high-quality, intelligent erotic fiction written by women of colour, is what Brown Skin Books is all about”, says Belfon. “I’ve experienced first-hand the UK media’s lack of multi-cultural perspective for much of my career, and if you look at the erotic sections in most bookshops, you’d think that black people don’t have sex! This clearly isn’t true, but whole swathes of society are still not being catered for in terms of intelligent erotica, either here or abroad. Brown Skin Books is the UK’s first and only publishing company set up to change that!”