Finweek English Edition - - COVER STORY -

The sub­ject mat­ter of 50 Shades of Grey i s noth­ing new, say pub­lish­ers and book re­view­ers around the world. Har­lequin books has been sell­ing steamy tales in se­ries with the trade­la­bels of “Spice”, “Blaze” and “De­sire” – with sub­gen­res like “His­tor­i­cal” and “Mè­nage á trois”. Some of th­ese are denser in ex­plicit porno­graphic de­tail than 50 Shades, and they’ve been do­ing it for years. Even in stuck-up Vic­to­rian times, ex­plicit erotic lit­er­a­ture was abun­dant. So what makes 50 Shades suc­cess­ful? How has it be­come part of the zeit­geist so quickly?

It seems to be nothi ng more t han t wo sta­ples of good mar­ket­ing: pack­ag­ing, and tim­ing. Un­like pre­vi­ous “bodice-rip­pers” and other erotic f ic­tion, 50 Shades had a stylish, unas­sum­ing black-and-white cover. It was “safe” to read on the bus or at home (or even at work).

50 Shades was made avail­able as an e-book for free at first, then sold at a very low price when the Kin­dle was ex­peri- dom­i­nance, submission, sadism and masochism scene, but ex­tends to in­clude wellde­fined kinky sub-cul­tures, in­clud­ing the prac­tice of body mod­i­fi­ca­tion or the wear­ing of la­tex and/or rub­ber. The use of the word “sadism” in the def­i­ni­tion of BDSM

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