“Fifty Shades of Grey,” an erotic novel by an obscure author that has been described as “Mommy porn” and “Twilight” for grown-ups, has electrified women across the country, who have spread the word like gospel on Facebook pages, at school functions and in spin classes. Or as the handwritten tag on a paperback copy in a Montclair, N.J., bookstore helpfully noted, “Yes, this is THE book everyone is talking about.”I swear to god, all I saw was a basic teaser for this article and immediately I wondered if publishers were tapping into the fanfic market. Apparently, yes.
The problem has been finding it. The first book of a trilogy, it was published by a tiny independent press in Australia, and distribution in print has been limited and sluggish, leaving bookstores deprived of copies.
Now American publishers have just concluded a battle over the rights to re-release the book in the blockbuster fashion they think it deserves.
“Fifty Shades of Grey” and the two other titles in the series were written by a British author named E L James, a former television executive who began the trilogy by posting fan fiction online. The books, which were released in the last year, center on the lives (and affection for whips, chains and handcuffs) of Christian Grey, a rich, handsome tycoon, and Anastasia Steele, an innocent college student, who enter into a dominant-submissive relationship.
Except this book has been credited with something else: introducing women who usually read run-of-the-mill literary or commercial fiction to graphic, heavy-breathing erotica. And in the cities and suburbs of New York, Denver and Minneapolis, the women who have devoured the books say they are feeling the happy effects at home.