Publishing has a new unlikely heroine: an unknown author named E L James who recently scored a seven-figure book deal with Vintage Books to publish her erotica trilogy, Fifty Shades of Grey.
Brimming with purple prose and racy imagery, the series had already sold more than 250,000 eBook and paperback copies through Australia's Writer's Coffee Shop Publishing. The New York Times ran a photograph of the book on a shelf at Watchung Booksellers, where a tag tantalized readers: "Yes, this is THE book everybody is talking about."
The buzz has catapulted the book to No. 1 on the New York Times paperback best-seller list, but there's one thing no one is talking about — the origins of this kinky best-seller and its implications for the industry.
The book emerged from the steamy land of fan fiction, an online community of readers who write unauthorized extensions of their favorite stories. On FanFiction.net, readers have produced a mind-boggling mountain of work: 583,000 free Harry Potter stories, 197,000 free Twilight stories and 46,000 free Lord of the Rings stories. ...
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