2 Reasons Why 50 Shades of Grey is Popular and Why It Means Nothing to the Publishing Industry

For reasons that cannot be explained in a mere internet blog post, 50 Shades of Grey is a thing. There are probably many complex cultural factors that made people run to the shops to buy porn recently, but for the purpose of this post I am going to simplify them into 2 reasons:

1) It’s porn.

There are not many opportunities in life for it to be socially acceptable to openly talk about pornography. Again…for some reason (I’m not a Sociologist) this book smashed open the flood gates for it to be popular to read erotica. It’s intriguing for women probably because it’s something they’ve never felt they’re allowed to admit to reading. Some still aren’t happy with the label of ‘erotica’ too. Someone I know who works at Waterstones told me that they had a women walk in asking for the book, and when they told them to head over to the ‘erotica’ section, they simply would not accept that it was indeed of that label. So I guess along the way of this ‘porn revolution’, there’s been people carried along who aren’t even aware of what they’re getting into.

2) Reading is cool, right?

I like to think it’s not a coincidence that I’m not friends with anyone who reads this book, or actually enjoys Twilight either. But something that really stood out to me every time I read a Facebook post about the book or overhear someone talking about it, is the emphasis they put on the activity of actually reading it rather than anything about the story. A lot of people reading this book admit to not having read a book since school. It’s as though the novelty of reading to them has become ‘cool’ in the same way as a fashion trend.

The only explanation I can think of is that people are probably under the impression that reading equals intelligent. But that assumption is long gone since people started writing books like Twilight and 50 shades. If you look into the history of the book itself, it used to be Twilight fan fiction. Change the names of the characters and what the author had, apparently, was a best seller. If nothing else, this is reassuring for aspiring writers that such poor writing can become so successful.

What I hope everyone understands is that reading is not a fad. People who are picking up this book because “all the cool kids are doing it” need to understand that reading is something that existed before 50 Shades and will not diminish once these people get bored of it.

Finally, some people are saying that 50 Shades is part of a ‘renaissance of reading’, holding hands with the rise of Ebooks. But whereas Ebooks has wedged itself firmly into the spot to replace paperbacks and the future of reading due to the benefits it give (probably), 50 Shades is simply a trend that will disappear in time. So I don’t think publishers should get their hopes up; the rise of 50 Shades just shows the capability of people to blindly follow trends. As soon as there is a new one they’ll drop their porn and leave ‘reading’ where it always has been: as a permanent aspect of culture, not just a novelty.

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