E L James' erotic novel UK number one

E L James' erotic novel UK number one

British novelist E L James' much-discussed erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey (Arrow) has become a number one bestseller in the UK. The pseudonymous novel, penned by former TV producer Erika Leonard—whose credits include "Have I Got News For You" and "Room 101"—sold 14,814 copies at UK bookshops last week, and takes pole position in this week's Mass-market Fiction chart.

Inspired by Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight books, the book hit the number one spot on the prestigious New York Times bestseller lists earlier this year on e-book downloads alone, prompting Cornerstone to snap up UK rights for the book, and its two sequels, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed (both out next week). Originally published by small Australia-based digital publisher The Writers’ Coffee Shop, Fifty Shades of Grey has smashed the weekly sales record for an “erotic” novel which, according to Nielsen BookScan data, was just 510 copies—set by Anais Nin’s Delta of Venus (Penguin) in June 2004.

Although Fifty Shades of Grey tops this week's Mass-market Fiction chart, it has to settle for fourth place in this week's Official UK Top 50. Overall, the three books in Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy were the bestselling books in the UK in the seven days to 14th April. Books one-through-three in her dystopian series aimed at young adults sold a combined 123,700 copies in the seven days to 14th April, taking £696,000 through the tills. In addition, another £20,000 was spent on Hunger Games titles not penned by Collins, such as The Hunger Games Official Movie Companion (Scholastic), Lois H Gresh’s The Unofficial Hunger Games Companion (Macmillan), and Mick O’Shea’s Beyond District 12 (Plexus).

Despite total sales of the series falling 19% week on week, Collins takes the top three positions in this week’s Official UK Top 50, a feat she achieved three weeks ago and has only been matched by three other authors since sales records began: J K Rowling, Dan Brown and Stephenie Meyer. The "classic" edition of book two, Catching Fire (Scholastic), takes pole position with a seven-day sale of 24,520 copies, with the "classic" editions of The Hunger Games and Mockingjay taking spots two and three with sales of 22,815 and 19,715 sales respectively.

James Patterson’s second Jack Morgan thriller, Private: No. 1 Suspect (Century), was the bestselling hardback novel last week, and débuts at the summit of this week’s Original Fiction chart with a 5,114 sale. It is Patterson’s 25th time atop the chart in the past five years. John Grisham’s baseball novel, Calico Joe (Hodder), rockets into second position in the Original Fiction list week on week, while Simon Toyne’s The Key (Macmillan), the follow-up to one of the bestselling hardback début novels of 2011, Sanctus, joins in fourth place.

The latest editions of two famous cricket compendia hit the non-fiction charts this week: the 149th edition of the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack makes the Hardback list in fourth place, while the 65th edition of the Playfair Cricket Annual débuts in pole position in this week’s Paperback chart. Between them, the two titles’ previous editions sold a combined 37,800 copies last year, taking £600,000 through bookshop tills.

Five other cricket tomes earned places in Nielsen BookScan’s top 5,000 chart for the week ending 14th April: two more editions of the Wisden Almanack (paperback and large-format), Christopher Martin-Jenkins’ memoir, CMJ, Michael Simkins’ The Last Flannelled Fool and Pitch Publishing’s The Cricketers’ Who Who.

Overall, though, last week was a tough one for booksellers, with sales falling 13.7% week on week, to £22.1m—down 14.1% on the same week last year. The popularity of paperback fiction remains significantly lower than last year, with sales through the top 5,000 slumping 32%.