According to last week's article in the New York Times, "Discreetly Digital, Erotic Novel Sets American Women Abuzz," thousands of suburban moms have become obsessed with Fifty Shades of Grey, E.L. James' erotic novel. The numbers speak for themselves: So far, the trilogy has sold more than 250,000 copies, in both paperbacks and eBooks.

Starting this week, Vintage Books has made the three titles in the trilogy—Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed—available in eBook. In April, Vintage will publish trade paperback editions with a print run of 750,000 copies.  (The series was initially published by Australia's Writer's Coffee Shop Publishing House.)

The buzz surrounding this series may seem like reason for the publishing industry to rejoice, but NPR blogger (and GalleyCat editor) Jason Boog writes that the books, which were born as Twilight fan-fiction—open up a whole other can of worms:

Does the book owe more than just character names to Twilight? Even though the names and relationships have changed, Fifty Shades of Grey reproduced the mad thrill of reading Twilight, the moody relationship at its core and the endless emotional analysis.

[University of Utah English professor Anne] Jamison argues that the story and the success of the book pose a unique ethical and legal problem for the publishing industry: "Whether the explicit, conscious use of another writer's fan base, via creation of characters known and experienced as 'versions' of the writer's characters, for commercial purposes, constitutes any kind of damage or infringement."

It's a question the publishing industry must reckon with.


Yesterday was the Ides of March (a.k.a. the 2056th anniversary of Julius Caesar's death), and The Awl has created a playlist in honor of the date. Blogger Dave Bly writes, "If Caesar had had access to Youtube and its trove of music videos, instead of some creepy old soothsayer, maybe he would have heeded the warning and avoided being stabbed to death by his friends in the Senate." Check it out here.

Algonquin Books publicist and BookPage reviewer Megan Fishmann has written a post for The Hairpin called "The Writer-Groupie Experiment." Fishmann writes about meeting famous authors—and how easy it is now for a fan to contact a favorite writer.

Her experiment involves contacting 10 famous authors via Facebook and asking what they ate for lunch. Read her funny (and oh-so-relatable!) essay here to see how it worked out.


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