Have you read “Fifty Shades of Grey”?
As this question is asked, presumably most of the answers are lies. Who would voluntarily admit their knack for sadomasochism-flavoured erotica literature, which has started as Twilight fan-fiction?
I haven´t read the books either, although I probably should.
As a planner, you have to always understand what makes people tick. That is why quite often you have to watch movies, listen to music or read books that you really do not understand. Or wouldn´t encounter in normal circumstances. Sometimes you might actually hate them, as is the case with majority of new music around. Apparently 50 Shades of Grey is huge in 30+ married women audience. That is important to know. There must be definitely something in those books, if the trilogy has sold already around ten million copies around. And keeps on selling.
As I have not yet read those books, I can say just four reasons why they have been so succesful:
Sex always sells, in some way or other. And it has been a bloody good salestool for literature among all ages.
2. Internet-Born Phenomenon
The story started originally in fan-fiction communities. If you have ever checked those, they are really active and engaged communities. Fifty Shades started with Twilight characters having steamy affairs. After that it evolved to its own web property. When the book was published, the audience was already there. Quite different case compared to an unknown new novelist without the name or the following. Brilliant example about how the book publishing will change it nature. It also stresses the importance of the personal branding.
With e-reading devices you can actually read suspect material more freely. No one sees the cover of the book you are reading in the subway, so why not read “mommy porn” then?
Of course I would have wanted to borrow these books from nearby library (only from my anthropological interest, of course), but actually in Singapore they are banned in libraries. This is due to explicit nature of the books and to prevent the teenagers to see them (as there is so much teenagers hanging in libraries in the first place). Not surprisingly the top 3 for the best-selling books in here, has been only Fifty shades of grey, darker and freed for weeks before and especially after the ban.
The best thing that has happened for these books has been those library bans all over the world. It has brought lots of free publicity in the media, because controversy is always something which interests press and the people. It has also brought new sales because you actually have to buy them if you want them. Compared to many other books, you are forced to do it.
Controversy is not always good, but it is better than no one talking about your product.