SACRAMENTO, CA - What is that soccer mom reading on her Kindle? It could be one of the nation's best selling ebooks, 50 Shades of Grey.
The erotic trilogy has broken download records and climbed to the top of the New York Times Best Seller list and Amazon's greatest hits. With themes of bondage, domination and sadism, it isn't your typical Harlequin romance but a kicked up lust story that falls into the new category of "Mommy Porn."
"I just heard a couple of gals in line at the grocery store talking about it," Nola said. "I downloaded it to my iPhone, started reading it in the parking lot and thought, ah, this could be interesting."
But 50 Shades of Grey is just the tip of the erotic iceberg.
Ereaders have made the genre much more accessible and private with no embarrassing covers to take to the checkout stand or to the kids' karate class. The ereader is the ultimate brown paper wrapping.
"When I'm at lunch, at work and reading explicit parts of a book, I think, 'I hope no one can tell what I'm reading. Its getting a little warm in here!'" Tracy said.
Amazon currently sells 70 percent of all ebooks, but erotica ebooks are so popular that traditional publishing houses are taking notice.
Harper Collins UK has just launched an erotic ebook site called "Mischief." Not only is the publisher selling the ebooks directly to consumers, but its soliciting stories as well.
"Erotica is actually very accessible for new writers." Mischief writer and editor Rachel Kramer-Bussell said. "Some may feature spanking or bondage. There is one about amateur escorts and 'my secret life.' People really enjoy that format of multiple stories around one there."
In addition to erotica, may readers download other titles that they want to keep private.
"Some people may want to read political books that they don't necessarily want to advertise," said Sean Harvey of Irish Canon Press.
Harvey is an author, former literary agent and current publisher (non-erotic books) and says publishing has become the wild west as the industry adapts to meet the e-book demand.
"There will be more competition from publishers going direct which means they'll have to up their marketing efforts," Harvey said. "In the 50's there was a study that showed 25 percent of the population read more than two books a year. A new study shows 50 percent of the population now reads two or more books a year. Whatever the reason, whatever they're reading, I'm all for it."