Posted by Craig Blyth,
Jul 10, 2012
Fifty Shades of Grey has set the publishing world alight this year, but in reality has had a much bigger impact on society than any of us would have predicted.
This trilogy has got the world talking in a way unlike anything I’ve seen before. Much has already been said about the 50 Shades series and two months after launch, you couldn’t avoid it even if you tried. Maybe I’m more attuned to seeing messages from working so closely on the ad campaign, but a day doesn’t go by without reading something in print, or seeing a tweet, a Facebook update or a celeb photographed carrying the book. We’ve now moved to a period where there is a certain kudos to be seen reading a paper version or telling all your social media followers what you think of it, which is a stark contrast to the image of women smiling cheekily to themselves on public transport with an eBook and revelling in the security of anonymity. Last night 3 celebs I follow tweeted about 50 Shades (and 2 of those were male…..)
Fifty Shades has revolutionised the eBook market and EL James has become Amazon’s bestselling eBook author in the UK, reaching sales of over one million for its Kindle version. To date, she is the best-selling author of the year and definitely the most talked about! Which begs the question:
Why has Fifty Shades become such a phenomenon?
In my view, a strong USP has been its championing of female sexuality. EL James has been adopted as the acceptable face of female erotica and if you’d told me at the start of the year I’d see Lorraine Kelly interviewing an author of a book like this on Daybreak, I’d have laughed…yeah whatever. A couple of months later not only has she been on Daybreak, but Newsnight and a whole host of prime time viewing.
Fifty Shades has moved from being a US internet word-of-mouth sensation, to becoming a mainstream entertainment proposition. Saturday Night Live created a hilarious spoof and now Universal Pictures have beaten the other Hollywood studios to the rights to adapt the series for cinema. It simply doesn’t get more mainstream than that. Whether you like it or not, 50 Shades is here to stay and its only going to get bigger.
Many other publishing houses are launching erotic literature imprints and releasing new titles in the hope of capitalising on the phenomenon. A new dawn is truly upon us. Page 3 models in The Sun have provided men with their own accepted mainstream form of erotica for 40 years, so perhaps its time to re-write the imbalance….Christian Grey with your cornflakes anyone?
What can brands learn from 50 Shades
Being able to conceal your reading material opens up a whole host of opportunities for publishers – as well as becoming a hugely liberating experience for the reader. Gay and lesbian fiction, self-help categories, as well as religious texts are some genres that could benefit from the privacy of an eBook for those who want to read unfettered by the judgement of their peers.
The possibilities of this stretch far beyond the UK market, notably for countries with a more austere political /religious regime, or for those in the rapidly developing world. As the world becomes increasingly urbanised, the rise of the middle class female shopper in developing nations (educated, working and with disposable income) has huge potential for brands, especially those in publishing.