Fifty Shades of Grey thrashes Harry Potter on Amazon

The best-selling BDSM erotica trilogy has outsripped J.K. Rowling's seven-book wizard series in the Amazon charts, making author EL James the site's most popular author ever.

by Rebecca Burn-Callander
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

Amazon has sold more than four million print and Kindle copies of James’ trilogy since the books first went on sale in March, breaking all records on the site. Latest stats show that Fifty Shades of Grey, the first book in the series, has even outsold Rowling's final book in the Potter saga - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - two to one.

More than half of these sales were eBook downloads - sneaky commuters choosing to read their jiggle-ball toting, 'Red Room of Pain'-using, 'inner goddess'-pleasing literature without having to reveal the - now iconic - book cover to everyone else on the 8:34 to London Waterloo. Interestingly, later editions of the Harry Potter novels were also given 'serious' covers so that adults would not feel silly reading them in public...

EU director of Kindle, Gordon Willoughby, is delighted by the trend: 'If JK Rowling was the literary phenomenon of the last decade, then EL James looks certain to take that mantle in the current decade. In just four months, EL James has become Amazon.co.uk’s biggest-selling author of all time, which is truly remarkable when you consider that we’ve been selling books for almost 14 years.'

Globally, however, Fifty Shades is still lagging far behind Harry Potter, selling 30 million copies worldwide, compared to more than 400 million copies for JK Rowling’s series. But then, Fifty Shades has only been on sale for four months - the first Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, came out in 1997...

The success of Fifty Shades of Grey is a testament to the popularity of crowd-sourced media - the story started out as Twilight fan fiction - and will give hope (not too misplaced, we pray) to self-published authors everywhere. EL James published the books herself initially, through a small Austalian printers, before the novels were picked up by Vintage and republished this year.

However, as with the sudden glut of copycat wizarding novels a decade ago, beware the raft of porn-lite potboilers that will be hitting the shelves over the coming months...

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime