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The book was edited by Glenn O'Brien and was released on October 21, 1992, by Warner Books, Maverick and Callaway Books.Approached with an idea for a book on erotic photographs, Madonna expanded on the idea and conceived the book and its content.The book was an instant commercial success, managing to sell over 150,000 copies on its first day of release and topping the New York Times Best Seller list.It was received negatively by both critics and fans of the singer, who felt she had "gone too far." Through the years, however, critical reception towards Sex has become more positive, with academics deeming it a defining phase in Madonna's career.
The photographs were stolen before publishing, but were quickly recovered.
According to Giselle Benatar of Entertainment Weekly, there are two versions of how Madonna came up with the idea for the book.
One was that she conceived the idea of an erotic photography book during the shooting of the film A League of Their Own in the summer of 1991.
Madonna wrote the book as a character named "Mistress Dita", inspired by 1930s film actress Dita Parlo.
It also includes cameos by actress Isabella Rossellini, rappers Big Daddy Kane and Vanilla Ice, model Naomi Campbell, gay porn star Joey Stefano, actor Udo Kier, socialite Tatiana von Fürstenberg, and nightclub owner Ingrid Casares.