Fifty Shades of Grey bolsters the book biz

As an author who’s about to publish his third book in October (shameless plug: Reel Terror), it is comforting to know that the book business is doing pretty well right now. 

This is a big relief for me, because the industry took a tough hit during the recession, just like everything else did, but it’s great to see that people are still reading, and actual paper books are still doing better than digital downloads. Clearly, quite a few people still aren’t totally ready to give up copies they can hold in their hands.


As we saw with Star Wars and The Avengers in the movie business, and Saturday Night Fever in the music business, a big hit can keep a studio or a label in business and offset a lot of losses, and the book business has gotten a pretty big boost from “mommy porn” sensation Fifty Shades of Gray.

And as we’ve previously reported here on TG, Fifty Shades has even given Harry Potter and The Hunger Games a run for the money, and now the Daily Beast reports that Fifty Shades has really helped boost Barnes and Noble’s bottom line.


It’s been sad to see bookstores going out of business with the recession, but I’m glad to see that things are coming back. As the Beast tells us, Barnes and Noble’s quarterly revenue went up 2% to $1.1 billion, and the CEO of retail has said, “Clearly Shades of Grey had the biggest impact in the numbers.”

Publishers Weekly has also reported that sales at actual bookstores went up 3.8% this June to $1.4 billion. Again, we would think these days it would be largely buying on the net because we lost Borders, and how many bookstore chains are still left?


What’s also interesting to note is there’s some interesting conflicts going on with newspapers easing into the digital realm. According to, The Financial Times now has more digital subscribers than print subscribers, The Hollywood Reporter tells us the New York Times could have more digital subscribers by 2014, but also reports that the current owner of The Orange County Register is still betting on print, and he wants to buy the Boston Globe.


So apparently print books are still here for a while, but it looks like more people would rather get their news online than have it delivered on their doorstep. (Personally I haven’t subscribed to a print paper or magazine in years, and get my news of the world online like many of us).

But again, the good news here is people are still buying physical paper books, the book stores that are still around are doing well, and people are buying a ton of books and are still reading.