This stigma hasn't necessarily abated since the publishing of "Fifty Shades of Grey," the bestselling erotic romance novel from British author E.L. James that spurred two sequels and a blockbuster film franchise. That series was many readers' first forays into erotic fiction, which had long been a vital part of the genre, said Jen Lois, a sociology professor at Western Washington University.
"Soccer moms were discovering it and in a way bringing more respectability to the genre," Lois said. "But at the same time, it became a stereotype for the entire genre. So it mainstreamed romance, but it stigmatized it as well."