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"How BDSM e-book "Fifty Shades of Grey" went viral"

on Wednesday, 14 March 2012. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

CBS

Women across the country are quietly turning the independently-published, novel "Fifty Shades of Grey" into the next publishing sensation - with a little help from social media.

The novel by E.L. James is the first installment of an erotic trilogy about a woman named Anastasia Steele and her exploration of bondage, domination, sadism and masochism (BDSM) with billionaire Christian Grey.

What's remarkable about the book's popularity is its absence of a major publisher and marketing machine, not to mention a shortage of physical copies. The novel is published by Australian publishing house, The Writers Coffee Shop, and has mainly been consumed in digital form on e-book readers like the Kindle or Nook. "Fifty Shades of Grey" is currently No. 1 on the New York Times best-sellers list and No. 4 in the Kindle Store. According to the Toronto Star, the e-book sold 250,000 copies.

The Star also noted that Vintage Books, which is part of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group and a subsidiary of Random House, won the publishing rights in a bidding war.

Vintage will run 750,000 paperback copies of the novel in coming weeks, according to the New York Times. If the buzz surrounding this book continues to swell, they may have to run additional copies.

So how did an obscure BDSM novel, which Publisher's Weekly confirmed began as "Twilight" fan fiction, become a phenomenon? At least part of the explanation can be found in the social network for book worms, Goodreads. The novel was published on May 26, 2011 and was first reviewed at the social network in June.

"Initial buzz about 'Fifty Shades of Grey' started building on Goodreads as early as last summer and its phenomenally high average rating earned it a nomination for the Best Romance award in the 2011 Goodreads Choice Awards," Jessica Donaghy, features editor at Goodreads told CBS News via email. "The nomination in early November caused a spike in interest from members and the buzz kept growing as more people read the book and shared their reviews with their friends on Goodreads."

The author also helped kindle interest in the relatively unknown novel. ...

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