The 58-year-old put the shift down to the huge popularity of the Fifty Shades of Grey erotic series by EL James.

London - Thanks to the discretion afforded by e-readers and recently released books like the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, erotic fiction is soaring in popularity.

Incredibly, it has become so popular that nearly half of women would rather read an erotic book than have sex themselves, an online poll has found.

A survey by online bingo site Dotty Bingo found 44 percent of women preferred reading about the (often fictional) erotic adventures of others to having sex with their partner.

Of the 400 women polled – all aged between 25 and 50 – 43 percent said books such as the Fifty Shades trilogy by EL James made their own love lives seem routine and boring.

They cited ease, a lack of energy and a lack of imagination in the bedroom as reasons why their sexual encounters paled in comparison with sex scenes they had read.

Nearly all of those quizzed (91 percent) said they had read at least one erotic book, with more than two thirds (68 percent) saying they would like to do so more often.

One respondent, who didn’t want to be named, said: “I’d much rather read about it than do it. It’s always exciting in a book and, unlike real life, the hero never rolls off when he’s finished and starts snoring without so much as a cuddle.”

A spokesman from said the results came as a surprise.

“Erotic reading has shot to prominence recently and, with the rise of the e-reader, never before has it been easier to read a racy novel covertly in public.

“Ease was the main reason cited for this as you can, understandably, have a book on hand more often than your partner.”

Others liked that the books were imaginative about sex and offered variety.

One person who won’t be surprised by the survey is mother-of-two Erika Mitchell, 49, who wrote the erotic Fifty Shades trilogy using the pen name EL James.

The first book in the series has just become the fastest-selling paperback of all time in the UK, out-selling Harry Potter and The Da Vinci Code.

Mitchell describes her books as “romantic fantasy” stories that offer women a “holiday from their husbands”.

She has received letters from fans crediting her books with saving their marriages by spicing up their sex lives. – Daily Mail