“Fifty Shades of Grey” publisher Random House recently revealed its sales figures for the series – a number high enough to boost the publisher’s operating earnings (before taxes and interest) by 75 percent.
Random House says it sold 70 million copies of the trilogy between the series' March 2012 debut in the US and December of that year. That figure includes print copies, audio books, and e-books sold in English, Spanish, and German.
It would seem that the trilogy was particularly popular in e-book format. According to the Guardian, 50 percent of revenue from sales of the series were from e-book versions – in contrast to the 20 percent which is apparently more typically the share of revenue drawn from the electronic version of a book.
Random House chairman Markus Dohle wrote a letter to employees at the company praising them for their “highly effective execution of our author- and content-centric, and market- and reader-oriented strategy,” according to Publishers Weekly. “With your know-how and passion, and your collaborative and entrepreneurial spirit, you have expertly navigated the new order of publishing, and positioned us well for future opportunities,” Dohle wrote. All employees in the US at the company received a $5,000 bonus because of the success of the series.
The numbers for “Fifty Shades of Grey” make the trilogy Random House’s fastest-selling series in its history.
By contrast, as the Wall Street Journal noted, the thriller “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn, which has dominated bestseller lists since its June release, has sold 2 million copies in the US and Canada so far, a number which also counts traditional paper copies, e-books, and audio books.
In terms of other series, “Harry Potter,” published in the US by Scholastic, has sold more than 450 million copies all over the world since 1997, when the first book was released in the US. But this past August, the first book in the “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy – with sales of 5.3 million books in all formats – surpassed “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” to become the highest-selling book ever in Britain.