Fifty Shades of Grey beats Harry Potter thanks to Kindle

Fifty Shades of Grey scribe EL James is the bestselling author of all time on Amazon UK, beating Harry Potter writer JK Rowling.

Her inner goddess must be hopping from foot to foot: Fifty Shades of Grey scribe EL James is now the bestselling author of all time on Amazon's UK site -- beating Harry Potter writer JK Rowling -- and it's all thanks to technology.

The Fifty Shades trilogy of porn-lite potboilers have made EL James the top author on the site at Amazon.co.uk, while the first installment Fifty Shades of Grey is now the number one bestselling book. It's sold over 4 million copies, more than twice as many as JK Rowling's wand-waving denouement Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Of those 4 million sales on Amazon.co.uk, more than half were digital copies. That's more than 2 million people sneakily reading Fifty Shades of Grey as an ebook -- think on that the next time you see someone with their nose buried in their Kindle on the train.

The Fifty phenomenon owes a lot to technology. You can read what you like on an ebook reader, tablet or phone without anyone knowing and judging, which is fantastic. It's perhaps ironic that the ability to read the book without anyone knowing has allowed Fifty Shades of Grey to overtake the Harry Potter books, which notoriously came with sober grown-up covers so adults could read them in public without feeling silly.

The series has its roots in an online community, with EL James originally writing the story as Twilight fan fiction. At first it was only self-published, another innovation in the book-publishing world made feasible by online printing and marketing.

Strange then that the trilogy's heroine Ana Steele is so hopelessly inept with technology that she doesn't even have an email address

The Harry Potter series began in 1997 -- really? wow -- while Amazon.co.uk arrived the following year, when US bookseller Amazon bought Bookpages.co.uk. But the wizarding series only went digital this year with the launch of JK Rowling's site Pottermore

JK Rowling remains one of the bestselling authors ever, beaten only by the likes of William Shakespeare, Agatha Christie, Enid Blyton and Dr. Seuss.  

Is Fifty Shades a one-off or the future of publishing? Do you prefer paper or ebook? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.

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About the author

Rich Trenholm is a senior editor at CNET where he covers everything from phones to bionic implants. Based in London since 2007, he has travelled the world seeking out the latest and best consumer technology for your enjoyment.

 

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