Not only was E.L. James' cult sadomasochistic masterwork Fifty Shades of Grey far and above the bestselling Random House title this year, it single-handedly helped keep Random House parent company Bertelsmann maintain overall group profit levels despite stagnant conditions in its TV, magazine, and music publishing businesses. The Fifty Shades books are, in other words, on the verge of getting their very own Orlando-area them park, with an orgy pit and everything.
According to The Guardian, Random House sold more than 70 million copies of titles in the Fifty Shades trilogy in 2012, meaning that far more people have read the book than are willing to admit that they read the book. As a result, the publisher's operating profit spiked 75 percent year on year to about $418 million. Meanwhile, revenue at Random House (which is awaiting final clearance its much-hyped mega-merger with Penguin) grew 22.5 percent year on year to $2.7 billion.
The Fifty Shades boos also stood out for having close to 50 percent of their revenues come from ebook sales. Random House only has a global ebook average of 20 percent for its other titles, but many of those don't invite the book-shaming eyerolls of MFA-holding Barnes & Noble cashiers.