Regular readers know how I feel about E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey (ick). I have now, however, begun to wonder about how other authors feel about Fifty Shades. Like, say, Anne Rice.
Anne Rice has an erotic Sleeping Beauty trilogy, originally written under the pen name A. N. Roquelaure. Penguin has recently republished the books to take advantage of the hoopla surrounding Fifty Shades. Now, that sounds like a good thing for Anne Rice, right? In terms of money-making, sure. But there has been one major change to the books: The new covers say that if you liked Fifty Shades, you’ll love the Sleeping Beauty books.
Um, what? Did you just put advertising for someone else’s books on the front cover? Maybe Anne Rice is more pragmatic than I am, but this seems more than a little insulting. Sending signage to stores, sure. Having it on displays, whatever. But actually printing it on the book seems like telling readers and Anne Rice that she’s second banana in the bunch.
Not that she’s the only author whose books are being re-positioned – Sylvia Day’s marketing had her Crossfire series ready to go once rabid readers finished the Fifty Shades trilogy, and were looking for more.
I will say this: the erotica section has never sold so well as it is now, and many of the women buying are women who normally are not readers. So, if it’s getting people reading, I guess that’s a plus. I’m trying to shift some of them on to Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Legacy series, which although definitely erotic and featuring S&M, also has… a plot! And decent writing. I feel like a missionary out to convert the heathens. Wish me luck!
Some of my worst fears about Fifty Shades of Grey‘s influence are coming true.
According to Brandon Wade, CEO and founder of SeekingArrangement.com , the site traffic is up. Way up. What is SeekingArrangement.com ? It is a self-proclaimed “Elite Sugar Daddy Dating Site”. Eep. The site, even without the Fifty Shades association, is creepy enough.
Now, however, new ladies are signing up, using “Fifty Shades” as a descriptor for the type of relationship they’re looking for. Men are adding it to their profile. Oh good. That much easier for people to find dysfunctional relationships. And daddy issues. These people are strangers, ladies, remember? No matter how much the site promises background checks.
Here are the results of a disturbing interview bostinno.com had with Wade on the topic:
Wade, a former MIT student, said 24.8% of the sites active female members—representing 186,000 around the world—specifically want to find the same arrangement that the book’s main character Anastasia Steel has with lover Christian Grey.
“One of the things we noticed a few months ago was that the term ‘Fifty Shades’ and the two main characters’ names started appearing in people’s profiles. It got us really curious to what was going on,” said Wade.
The book describes the relationship of the couple as two people “[who] embark on a daring, passionately physical affair.” But it gets much deeper than that. The novel explores the fiery fling between Grey, a rich entrepreneur with a love for bondage and handcuffs, who is prone to spending money and buying gifts for Anastasia, in exchange for her time.
“We noticed a parallel between the story and the type of arrangements people look for on the website,” said Wade. “It is a sugar daddy, sugar lady story….it’s a very similar story to relationships that happen on seeking arrangements.”
Of the 1.6 million people with profiles on SeekingArrangements.com, the term “Fifty Shades” is mentioned 28,382 times; Christian Grey is mentioned 23,102 times; and Anastasia Steel is mentioned 18,281 times, according to statistics provided to BostInno.
“The results were quite enlightening. A huge percentage of the women were really into this stuff,” he said.
Since the beginning of this year, 12.6 percent of all sign ups were connected to the erotica novel, both male and female. When users sign-up, they are asked a series of questions, and Wade said they used this data to connect the new members and their preference for “Fifty Shades.”
“[We] ran stats to find out how much the words were used, and asked members when they logged in if they had read the book and how many were there because of the book,” he said.
Wade said while these types of arrangements are still frowned upon by the general public, more people have become open to the idea since the release and explosive sales of the novel.
“I think we are the number one beneficiary in terms of the book. People are also selling more handcuffs and other types of sex toys, too, I’m sure,” he said.
Beyond the drastic increase in references to the book, or number of new sign ups, what has truly intrigued Wade since the books hit shelves is the fact that so many people read “Fifty Shades” in public places.
“It is becoming more mainstream,” he said.
Here are some other members interests based on stats that tie to themes in the book:
One very smart lady of my acquaintance made the point that books allow you to feel the experience of danger, without actually being in it (she still doesn’t want to read Fifty Shades). At this point, however, the danger may not be imaginary any more.
So you know to avoid it… and what the heck does she have to do with Comic-Con? No geek love here.
I’ve always been against censorship. Unless something is inciting hate or harm, I feel that it should be allowed to be viewed or read, and it isn’t anyone’s place to make judgements on someone else’s behalf.
I have run smack into my own principles with Fifty Shades of Grey, and the other two books in the trilogy, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, by E.L. James. Erotic fiction evolved from Twilight fan-fiction (shudder) to an e-book/print-on-demand that was so overwhelmingly popular, the trilogy was picked up and published in hard copy, all three releasing over the last few weeks.
I have not read the book myself yet (I am borrowing it today to read). What I know of it, from the book jacket, blurbs, and info from those who have already read it, is that it is erotica. BDSM (bondage/domination/sadism/masochism) erotica, to be precise. I don’t have any issues with erotica, But erotic books are a strange, grey area. They are not classified as pornography, so there is no requirement that purchasers be of a certain age. Fifty Shades of Grey has an emphasis on the domination side of things, from what I understand, and I am conflicted between my need to try to be non-judgemental and not censor books, and my need to not have teenagers buying books where people don’t take “no” for an answer, and the person saying “no” is okay with that.
The book being so popular also means that people (almost exclusively women) are coming in and buying it because they’ve heard the buzz, but have no idea about the contents. Young teenage girls are coming in and looking for it because they’ve heard it’s connected to Twilight in some fashion. One girl came in to buy it, age perhaps seventeen or eighteen, accompanied by her dad. Eep. When her father was some distance away, I asked her if she was aware that the book was erotica, which led to her practically throwing the book to me, and fleeing the display.
I am currently limiting myself to asking if people purchasing it are aware that it is BDSM erotica, and stopping at that. After they know what the book is, the decision is in their hands. But what do I do if a twelve-year-old insists on buying it? Arg.