We’re nearing the end of another decade, and with that sort of milestone always comes a variety of best lists to remind us of the things we enjoyed over the past 10 years. Now we know that a certain BDSM-focused book series was tops when it comes to best-selling books of the decade, which is a mighty impressive feat for something that started as dirty Twilight fan fiction. That’s right, folks. E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey is the top book of the decade.
In fact, Fifty Shades of Grey was so popular among readers that the good news for E.L. James doesn’t end there. The two sequels she penned for the sexytime-filled novel, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, actually round out the top three for best-selling books of the decade. According to The NPD Group (via NBC News), a market research company which has collected data on the decade’s book sales, from 2011 through 2019, Fifty Shades of Grey sold 15.2 million copies, while Fifty Shades Darker hit 10.4 million copies sold and Fifty Shades Freed came in with 9.3 million editions sold.
Somewhere, E.L. James is celebrating the fact that no one can spank her now…I know that’s terrible, you guys, but I had to.
Those numbers mean that the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy managed to sell almost 35 million copies in print and e-book form this decade, so, good on E.L. James for taking fan fiction to brand new heights. James had originally published the story on several sites devoted to fan fiction, and used the names of the title characters from Twilight, but after getting negative comments about the seriously sexy nature of her work, she removed them, changed the names and then put the stories on her own website.
As we all know, just because some people complain about stories that are sexually charged, it doesn’t mean that many others won’t find it to be just what they’re looking for, and the phenomenon that is Fifty Shades of Grey was born. The books, sometimes dubbed “mommy porn” because of the main demographic reading the books, were so popular that Hollywood got right on that money train and adapted them.
Fifty Shades of Grey, starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as lead characters Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey, debuted on February 13, 2015, just in time for everyone who was looking for something naughty to watch at their local multiplex for Valentine’s Day. And, people came out for it, either to see one of their favorite books come to life, or just to see what all the fuss was about. The whole franchise (with Fifty Shades Darker releasing in 2017 and Fifty Shades Freed coming a year later) made over $1.3 billion worldwide, mostly-awful reviews be damned.
E.L. James had such a horrible time working on that first film with director Sam Taylor-Johnson that she wrote a chapter of her, now very famous, book from Christian’s point of view to deal with the stress and keep her head in the game. That led to James rewriting the whole series from his perspective, and while the first retelling, Grey, got some very bad reviews, it sold 1 million copies in its first week of release.
If you missed out on the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy the first time around, they’re still available on a variety of streaming services. For all the, potentially dirty, movies coming out next year, be sure to check out our 2020 new movie release guide!