Sales of 5.3m in print and ebook drive EL James’s ‘spankbuster’ past the Highway Code and Dan Brown
Literature lovers around the world have released a collective gasp, or perhaps a groan, at the news that the publishing phenomenon Fifty Shades of Grey has become the bestselling book in British history. The erotic novel has sold in excess of 5.3m copies in print and ebook – more than The Highway Code or Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.
EL James’s novel – centred around the corruption of a virginal student by her successful, helicopter-flying, sadomasochistic boyfriend – has already outsold all seven Harry Potter books on Amazon.
Dubbed “mummy porn” by some literary critics, Fifty Shades of Grey is the first book in a triology which traces the adventures of Anastasia Steele after she meets tycoon Christian Grey.
In a statement James said “My main ambition when I signed the deal with Random House was to see my books in the shops. I simply had no idea they would be so successful and this is totally unexpected. The whole process has been both extraordinary and rewarding. I couldn’t be more pleased with the sales and would like to thank everyone involved.”
Fifty Shades of Grey remains in the top slot in the UK bestseller lists for the 16th week running. The second and third books, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, are also selling fast, with UK sales of 3.6m and 3.2m respectively. Combined UK sales for the trilogy are in excess of 12m copies, with rights to the book sold around the world and published in languages including Albanian, Chinese, Russian, Serbian and Vietnamese.
Susan Sandon, managing director of Cornerstone Publishing, part of Random House, said she was privileged to be part of the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon, one of the “most extraordinary experiences” of her career.
To say critics have welcomed the book with the same unbridled enthusiasm is an understatement. In the London Review of Books, Andrew O’Hagan described it as a “multi-million-selling contributor to the art of terrible writing about sex”. He added: “It’s not that Fifty Shades of Grey and EL James’s other tie-me-up-tie-me-down spankbusters read as if feminism never happened: they read as if women never even got the vote.”
For fans of the book who are bereft at finishing all three titles there is good news: all three books are due to be filmed as part of a movie deal.