Records tumble as Fifty Shades sales continue to climb

Records tumble as Fifty Shades sales continue to climb


E L James' Fifty Shades of Grey (Arrow) has smashed the weekly sales record for a paperback novel, selling a massive 205,130 copies in the UK last week. The phenomenal sale is some 64,000 copies higher than the previous record—set by Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol (Corgi) in July 2010.

All three of the books in James' erotic trilogy sold more than 100,000 copies at UK bookshops last week, with Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed enjoying sales of 132,174 copies and 115,086 copies respectively. James becomes the first writer to see two or more of their books sell 100,000 copies or more in the same week since Nielsen BookScan records began in 1998. Interestingly, the uplift in sales of the books was almost identical with Fifty Shades of Grey enjoying a 104.4% week-on-week boost, and Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed both enjoying a 104.6% increase.

In total, £1,934,500 was spent on 452,390 copies of the three books in her Fifty Shades trilogy—more than was spent on the next 50 bestselling paperback novels of the week combined (£1,932,400).

Sales of book one, Fifty Shades of Grey, now stand at 764,748 copies and counting. Remarkably, it has reached that figure in little over two months — in just a third of the time it took the bestselling paperback novel of all time, Brown's The Da Vinci Code (5,240,000 copies and counting), to reach.

Publisher Arrow has revealed that the trilogy has been reprinted 16 times in the UK with an additional reprint of almost three million copies just authorised to meet demand. A boxed-set of the trilogy has just been published, with hardback editions due for release in September. According to Arrow, the trilogy has sold "in excess of 2.75 million copies" in the UK alone, suggesting digital edition sales of the novel account for around 40-50% of its total sales. 

Helped by the huge sales of the Fifty Shades trilogy, and some big sales boosts for non-fiction titles in the run up to Father's Day, overall book sales soared 19.3% week on week, to a 2012 high of £27.7m. 

Countless hardback non-fiction titles enjoyed huge uplifts ahead of Father's Day, with books such as Bobby Teale's Bringing Down the Krays (Ebury Press), Phil Tuffnell's Tuffers' Cricket Tales (Headline), Keep Calm for Dads (Summersdale), Terry Leahy's Management in 10 Words (Random House Busines), James Holland's The Dambusters (Bantam Books), Top Gear: Ambitious But Rubbish (BBC Books) and David Blakely's Pathfinder (Orion) all seeing their sales double week-on-week.

Meanwhile, Jeff Stelling's Jeffanory (Headline), Colin Shindler's National Service (Sphere) and Roger Mortimer's Dear Lupin (Constable) all saw their sales treble week-on-week. Sales of the latter were helped by its BBC Radio 4 "book of the week" spot. Antony Beevor, though, scores top spot in this week's Hardback Non-fiction chart.