Story of Oy
Every so often, the New York Times Book Review takes a look back at the books that ascended the bestseller lists 10, 15, 20 years earlier. As a recent sampling of such books revealed, some things never change—such as the enduring popularity of self-help tomes and mystery novels, and Danielle Steel’s stranglehold on romantic fiction—but in each retrospective there are surprises, books that inexplicably rose to the top of the list and astonished everyone with their staying power.
Fifty Shades of Grey will hold that place for 2012. It is the first in a trilogy whose second and third volumes were published almost simultaneously. As of this writing, it has spent seven weeks on the bestseller list; the three Fifty Shades novels are currently numbers one, two, and three on the e-book fiction list. They have already been optioned for film following a fierce Hollywood bidding war. The work of an unknown British writer named E L James, the trilogy has received considerable media attention for two reasons: first, the number of readers who have downloaded the e-book versions to read on their Kindles, Nooks, and iPads; and second, their purported kinkiness. The two are not unrelated.
About the Author
Christine Rosen is senior editor of the New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology and Society.