Maybe you haven't read it yet, but chances are that you have. Fifty Shades of Grey has been building up some serious record-breaking buzz lately, and I'm not just talking about its readers' vibrators. (HEY-oh!) The relatively discrete ebook version of the X-rated novel was popular enough, but now that that word of mouth has been augmented by media coverage, printed books have been flying off shelves at a jaw-dropping rate.
As in, it's now the UK's fastest-selling novel -- not just of the year, but of ALL TIME. Unbelievably, the paperback edition of Fifty Shades has left Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Da Vinci Code in the dust in terms of book sales, and E.L. James is officially the first author ever to see three of her books sell more than 100,000 printed copies in just one week.
Based on these numbers, it seems likely that Fifty Shades will soon be one of the most read books in the world. You know, right next to a little publication known as THE BIBLE.
While Fifty Shades continues to dominate book news, in terms of reader discussion, the tide seems to have turned from blushingly comparing notes on the storyline to tearing down the quality of James' writing style. Plenty of armchair critics have lambasted the book, with one Amazon review noting,
Characters roll their eyes 41 times, Ana bites her lip 35 times, Christian’s lips ‘quirk up’ 16 times, Christian ‘cocks his head to one side’ 17 times, characters ‘purse’ their lips 15 times, and characters raise their eyebrows a whopping 50 times. ... If I wrote like that, I’d use a pseudonym too.
While I agree that the prose in Fifty Shades is not in any way above criticism, I have to say, if I'd written those books, I'm pretty sure I'd be happy to use MY real name. You know, while I was signing one of my many BAZILLION-DOLLAR CHECKS.
I'm pretty uninterested in the question of whether or not James deserves all this success, really. You don't like the books? Cool, don't read them. There's plenty more porn in the sea. But maybe take a break from sniffing over the peasants who bought it to marvel at what has become a true literary phenomenon. It was downright miraculous that a smutty BDSM-lite story that started out as Twilight fanfiction ended up as a runaway ebook hit, and the fact that it's managed to jump the barrier to the paperback mass market -- well, let's just say James had a much better shot at winning the lottery. Twice. While being struck by lightning.
I say good for her, and I hope she enjoys the ride. Meanwhile, get ready for a massive influx of erotica from authors who are hoping to cash in on this trend. (For instance, Jane Eyre Laid Bare, the erotic fan fiction re-write of the well-known Charlotte Bronte novel!) I doubt anyone will achieve quite the same level of sales that James has so far, but anyone who liked Fifty Shades is sure to appreciate the upcoming selection.
Are you surprised by Fifty Shades' ever-increasing book sales?
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