On August 24 1941, the New York Times first published a weekly listing of the bestselling books in the nation. It has appeared every Sunday since...which comes to a grand total of 3,692 times. However, something happened this week that has never happened before. The top three spots are all held by the same author: E.L. JAMES. She's beat out some impressive novelists as well. #4 on this week's bestsellers list is NICOLAS SPARKS of The Notebook fame. MARY HIGGINS CLARK is at #5....she has been on the list 42 times before. #6 is master of suspense JAMES PATTERSON whose books have sold 250 million copies worldwide.
So how does a nobody like E.L. JAMES come out of nowhere and knock three heavyweights off the top? Erotic novels, of course! Often called "Mommy Porn," the FIFTY SHADES trilogy has middle aged women going bananas. They're shelling out $29.95 for hardcover hardcore. (Paperback retails for $15.95...but the cover gets gooey!) Here's a quick synopsis: Our protagonist is Anastasia Steele. She's a shy and demure college student...until she meets Christian Grey, an older, sophisticated and horribly wealthy tycoon. They proceed down a bizarre road of dominatrix sex where the "awkward naif" consents to all sorts of violent acts, including being whipped with a leather riding crop. Ouch!
|Erika Leonard: Instant millionaire.|
All of which has women's rights organizations a bit confused. After decades fighting for equal rights, it seems odd that the same women...who fought for things like the ERA...are now purchasing explicit books glorifying sexual violence against women. “What I found fascinating is that there are all these super-motivated, smart, educated women saying: This is the greatest thing I’ve ever read,” said activist MEG LEONARD. “I don’t get it. There’s a lot of violence, and this guy is abhorrent sometimes.” Statistics back up her point. The top three states for sales are New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania...places with lots of college graduates. I guess there's just no telling what people are going to buy!