I know that the Fifty Shades trilogy by E.L. James has been talked about ad nauseum, but I wanted to offer up something new that I don't think has been discussed before.
I don't want to talk today about the specifics of the books, or whether they were "good" or "bad" or "well written" or how much money James is making, or the characters in the books or even the plot lines. I want to discuss something I've noticed about the industry since these books have hit the shelves in the states. I had never heard of these books until a few weeks after coming back to the US in May of this year and suddenly, it was all anyone was talking about. The books were in K-Mart and Walmart as well as all major booksellers, nation-wide.
And here's what I've noticed in the past two months. The ramifications for the industry of erotic romance (my industry) is changing before my eyes. No longer is erotic romance shelved off on its own in the book stores. It's not hidden behind other books, it's not secluded in one corner, it doesn't make up the "naughty" section of an otherwise "upstanding" and "respectable" book store.
In Barnes & Noble, there are three front-facing racks of "New Romance" one full rack is the standard paperback size ranging from Historicals to Paranormals and everything in between. The second rack is Harlequin and all of this month's titles. Again, ranging from Paranormals, Erotic Romances, and Suspense. Between these two racks is a third I haven't really seen before. The top row of this rack is new romances in hard cover. There are only 7 of these. Below that are trade-paperback sized books. If you've seen a copy of any of the Fifty Shades books, this is the size that they were published in. Of these 24 covers, eight are erotic romance. Many of these books are also modeled after the cover of the Fifty Shades Books - dark covers with the pop of one element to attract the reader's attention.
This means that out of 24 new romances on this set of shelves, 1/3 are erotic romance. This is unprecedented. I don't think I've ever seen it before.
Is EL James the best writer since Jane Austen? Probably not. But that's okay. I've seen a lot of negativity surrounding this book the past few months, and people will always criticize, that's normal. But for those of you readers and writers in the industry of erom, or romance in general, I just wanted to share what I have seen that I think is a direct result of the Fifty Shades trilogy. So for that, I thank EL James and her publisher for helping to make this genre more widely-read and for helping to bring erotic romance to the forefront of the industry.