Fifty Shades of Grey: e-book success or top-shelf snigger?

Writing news

It’s “Media Monday”, when I bring you a short, sharp post of the latest writing news…

Fifty Shades of Grey. Heard of it? It’s the erotica novel that has just pushed the phenomenal Hunger Games off the US bestseller list and has bagged its author, E.L. James, a $5 million publishing deal – oh, and it’s a bit racy. While industry experts and publishing houses are now dusting off their erotica authors and getting them out on the shelves to cash in on this new trend, many journalists and reviewers are hailing this fiction genre as the long-awaited voice for all women. News streams such as The Huffington Post have applauded E.L.James’ book, with guest blogger, Lisa Guest, declaring that it was ‘about time’ women spoke of s.e.x (see, I can’t say it…), while Goodreads.com has announced that the book could be turned into a movie. But, the thing is, I think they’ve all missed a major point here, namely, has the fact that this was originally published solely as an e-book contributed to its success? Fifty Shades of Grey is, as the media claim, ‘mummy porn.’ But answer me this: How many mums do you know who go to the top shelf of the local supermarket and chuck a copy of Playboy in with the mince and the nappies? I’m guessing there aren’t many. And that’s the point. These women saw an opportunity with the e-book format – and so did E.L.James. Namely, they could buy their erotica and no-one would be any the wiser. Except, perhaps, their other halves.

Now the book is in paper format, it’s doing very well, but for its author E.L.James, the success lay, not only in having the guts to write a book of such an explicit kind in the first place (it’s one of a trilogy), but to then sell it as an e-book so readers could purchase it in the privacy of their own homes. Like it or not, the e-book is a seller, and while Fifty Shades of Grey is not my kind of novel, top-shelf snigger or not, you’ve got to admire the sheer success of it all.

What do you think? Is it an e-book phenomenon or simply a top-shelf snigger? Let me know.

**Look out for “Wednesday Wafflings”, my Diary of a Hopeful Author out on..Wednesday. This week, I talk about the sheer agony of listening to my own voice on the radio…**

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4 thoughts on “Fifty Shades of Grey: e-book success or top-shelf snigger?”

  1. to be honest, call me a prude, but I think it’s just sad. For over thirteen years books like Harry Potter, Twilight, and Hunger Games have hogged the top spots. I think it’s a poor indictment on the adult reading public that, when they finally break through the Young adult clutter, they do it with smut. But then I suppose in this world there really is no other way. I just think other writers of adult fiction should be lamenting. Pity it didn’t just stay an ebook phenomenon. Now we have to trip over piles of the stuff when we go into the book store too. Sigh.

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    1. Thanks. Great to hear from you. It’s certainly a genre that polarises both readers and authors alike. With it now being in the shops, I’m just mightly pleased it’s got a nice normal front cover – otherwise it might be a tad tricky to explain to my daughter when we walk into Waterstones!

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  2. Fifty shades of grey… For a moment there I thought you had written a post about my hair!
    I’m so glad to report that, thanks to an iPhone App called Tunein Radio which I had purchased a longtime ago, I was able to record you on the BBC overnight and listen to you on my way to work this morning. Great job!
    I’ll let you go to bed now…since you usually get up at 5:00 am!

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    1. Your comment about your hair made me laugh so quick, I nearly spit my cup of tea out! Very good, Sir, very good! Thank you so much for making all that effort to listen to me on the radio. I’m a northern england girl, but the old accent didn’t come across to strong in the interview (been living in the south of england for 15 years now, so…). Your writing seems to be going well. Happy days.

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