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Tuesday, July 22 2014 7:17 AM EDT2014-07-22 11:17:13 GMT
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Thanks to e-readers more and more women are buying into erotica. It's private. There's no more embarrassment because no one can tell what they're reading on a tablet.
Back in the day, some women would brown bag it and hide the covers of their romance novels. Then came "50 Shades of Gray" and erotica exploded online.
"I think it makes it easier or more accessible," said Sia St. Martin. "Certainly I've sat on the train or the plane reading erotic fiction and no one is none the wiser."
St. Martin is not just a reader, she's also a local erotica writer. Her books are racy, which is a complete departure from her high-tech day job.
She also started an online erotica business called Captive Unicorn Publications.
It's a mental escape.
"I think that's a lot of it," she said. "It's a chance to live vicariously. No matter how hectic things are, mundane or difficult, you can pick up an e-book and sit down and escape for a while."
Web sites have popped up to meet demand by publishing some authors and selling the novels online. Some writers also self-publish on Amazon.
Erotica e-books are shorter, cheaper and less complex. They are easier on the reader and writer with very little time and expense involved.
"Romance is probably the hottest topic on e-readers right now," said Sally Brewster, owner of Park Road Books. She has watched erotica evolve and remembers when romance writer Danielle Steel came out with plain book covers.
"It worked like a charm. Her sales went through the roof," said Brewster. "You saw women reading these everywhere because it didn't have the stigmata."
Some argue there's a real-life benefit too. Diane Parks is a Charlotte certified sex therapist, counselor and former nurse practitioner.
"We call it liter-rotica. Literature, but erotic," said Parks.
In some cases, she prescribes it to patients to help their own relationships.
"If there are women who have an increase in their libido, their sex drive, their pleasure as a result of being able to go somewhere short-term in the brain to be able to augment what is already there for them. Why not?" she said.
It can be a simple fix said Parks. It's one part of therapy to keep in perspective.
For Sia St. Martin, reading and writing erotica is a hobby.
"It allows you to fuel your imagination. Whether you act on it or not, the majority of people probably never do," she said.