Fifty Shades of marketing; could fan fiction save the book biz plus a tip about another, better read

My curiosity got to me so down I sat with Fifty Shades of Grey, the phenomenally successful bodice-ripper apparently lodged in almost every woman’s e-reader.

Not my favorite book, but at least I’m now in a better position to understand what all the hubbub is about.

The books – three in the series – have steadfastly held the top spot on The New York Times print and e-book best-seller list for months. How they got and stayed there fascinates me as it may signal what’s next for the poor old book business.

The Fifty Shades series achieved its snap-your-head back success without any formal advertising or PR. The book began as “fan fiction” – a story created by followers of a certain movie, book or TV series.

Fifty Shades author E. L. James wrote her version of the relationship between Twilight heroes Bella and Edward a few years hence.

Fan fiction has been around since storytelling began – people are drawn to a story, then concoct what’s next using the original characters and setting and share it with other fans. Now technology makes this a snap. (In the sci fi and fantasy worlds fan fiction runs rampant – check out for an eye-opening peek at this sub-culture.)

Works like the Harry Potter, Twilight and now Fifty Shades series draw massive numbers of devotees. Could “fanfic” move to the mainstream and live beside the books that inspire it? I think it could. Do you agree?

While we’re talking about it, I highly recommend another book in the same genre – but with a better plot, way more humour and appealing, endearing characters: Spank, The Improbable Adventures of George Aloysius Brown by my friend Alan Daniels. Do yourself a favour and read this after Fifty Shades!




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