Fifty Shades of Grey Hits 100 Million


Fifty Shades of Grey just turned into 100 million shades of green. The popular book trilogy penned by E. L. James just hit the 100 million mark in sales worldwide, according to the book’s publisher.

The trilogy is one of the most remarkable publishing stories in memory. The erotic tale, being turned into a movie, is now up there with the likes of the Ian Fleming James Bond novels, but it took some 50 years for the Bond books to hit the 100 million plateau. The Grey books only premiered in 2011.

James originally self-published Fifty Shades of Grey but was it quickly acquired by Vintage Press which is part of the vast Random House publishing company. Random House says it is the fastest selling book series in the publisher’s history. At one time, adds Vintage, two copies of the trilogy were selling every second. The publisher does not say how many sales were actual books and how many were downloaded to e-readers.

Random House also notes that the trilogy has been published in 51 languages including Thai, Russian, Hebrew, Icelandic, Mongolian and Lithuanian. The trilogy’s other two titles are Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed.

With these sales numbers Grey is in pretty heady company. Another popular series, Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, has sold 120 million copies, while Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code has sold 200 million. The popular Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling has sold 450 million books. There is no reason to think that Grey will slow down that much since a film adaption is in the works which producers say will hit theaters in February 2015.

The film just wrapped principal production in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson (known for Nowhere Boy and Love You More) the film stars Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele and Jamie Doran as Christian Grey. Others in the cast are Jennifer Ehle, Max Martini and Marcia Gay Harden.

For the uninitiated, the Grey tale is about the relationship between a 21-year old literature student, Steele, and her 27-year old billionaire boss named Christian Grey. The story is highly erotic in nature and is controversial because of depictions of BDSM (bondage discipline sado masochism).

A lot has been written about why Fifty Shades of Grey has become so popular, capturing the imagination of so many readers. Random House does not say how many buyers are women versus men but the presumption is that more women have bought and read the series than men.

Some of the theories explaining the Grey popularity include the notion that female readers are attracted to Christian Grey because of his wealth in these hard economic times; that it focuses on female pleasure and not just male pleasure; and that it is a relatively easy read and not overly intellectual.

E. L.  James is the pen name of a 50-year-old British author Erika Leonard. She worked as a television executive in London and began writing in 2009. She says she is shocked by the success of the triology and refers to the tale as her  “midlife crisis” with the book containing some of her own fantasies.

Whatever the reasons, Fifty Shades of Grey doesn’t appear to be slowing down. Fifty Shades of Grey has hit 100 million in book sales but with the movie set next year and possible follow up books and movies, the Grey is likely to stay green for a long time.

By Jim McCullaugh


LA Times
Entertainment Weekly

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