The runaway erotic bestseller “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E L James became the bestselling book in British history this week, surpassing even the "Harry Potter" books and “The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown, which had been fellow competitors for the title.
“Fifty Shades of Grey” has sold more than 5.3 million copies counting both print and e-book copies, according to the Guardian. The book’s sequels, “Fifty Shades Darker” and “Fifty Shades Freed,” have sold 3.6 million and 3.2 million, respectively.
“The whole process has been both extraordinary and rewarding,” James said in a statement. “I couldn't be more pleased with the sales and would like to thank everyone involved.”
The reaction to the trilogy from the literary world has been mixed. Guardian editor Philip Jones noted that the month of July had been the strongest fiscally for the book world since 2007, not counting Christmas, and credited James with inspiring the upswing.
“Every half-decade the book business comes up with a title that crystallises what it means to put an author in touch with a reader,” Jones wrote.
However, some critics have objected to the books’ writing style and content. London Review of Books critic Andrew Hagan said he found the gender roles portrayed in the book distasteful.
“It's not that 'Fifty Shades of Grey'… read[s] as if feminism never happened,” he wrote. “They read as if women never even got the vote.”
The news of the record comes soon after the announcement that EMI Classics would release “Fifty Shades of Grey – The Classical Album.” The tracks, which include selections by Chopin, Bach, and Thomas Tallis, are all mentioned in James’ novels and were chosen by the author. The CD will become available in digital format on Aug. 21 and in physical form in September.
Will the "Fifty Shades of Grey" connection do for classical music what it has done for book sales? It remains to be seen but some classical music enthusiasts are hopeful. "Any mention – non-dismissive mention, that is – of classical music in mainstream culture has got to be a good thing," says Baltimore Sun music critic Tim Smith, who also provides a sampler of some of the music in his column.