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Lady Mechatronic and the Steampunked Pirates is one of many popular erotic e-books offered by B.C.'s eXtasy Books. ((Devine Destinies/eXtasy books))

Sales have soared for erotic literature with the advent of e-readers such as Kobo and Kindle, with one company in British Columbia reaping the benefits.

Tina Haveman, who's based in Squamish, B.C., north of Vancouver, owns a busy digital erotic publishing company and she says there are a lot of "closet readers" who would never admit to liking that kind of literature.

"Customers are starting to discover them and finding that they can read certain books that they do not want other people to see and in privacy," Haveman, who runs eXtasy books, told CBC Radio.

The e-publisher notes that sales took off in early 2010 and doubled last year. She expects them to triple in 2012 with a majority of downloaders being female. Xtasy has more than 1,000 titles in its "store" including ones such as the paranormal Dragon’s Pearl, the hybrid fantasy/Victorian Lady Mechatronic and the Steampunk Pirates and the Western-tinged Dead Man’s Diamond. 

"Women read a lot more than men. It’s always been that way."

But within that group, interests are wide: from inspirational romance to stories involving werewolves to gay romance – each selling for between $3 and $4 online.

Nathan Maharaj, Kobo’s merchandising director, called eXtasy a Canadian success story.

"It’s reduced barriers to entry for publishers as well as for customers looking to get into it."

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Susan Knabe, who teaches women’s studies at the University of Western Ontario in London, says amateur erotic writing is thriving online and now it’s becoming more accessible.

"You can actually, in some ways, enjoy the fact that you’re doing something a little bit naughty in public," Knabe said. "You could be reading your e-reader on public transit."

According to Maharaj, sexy books are regularly cracking bestseller lists: "At any given moment in the list of the top 100 most popular titles on Kobo in any given territory there’s always some work of erotica in there."