New Fifty Shades Of Grey book sells 1.1 million copies in four days

A woman looking at copies of Grey in a New York bookstore on June 18, 2015.
A woman looking at copies of Grey in a New York bookstore on June 18, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (Reuters) - E.L. James' new book Grey, the latest novel in the erotic Fifty Shades Of Grey series, has sold more than 1.1 million copies in trade, paperback, e-book and audio editions in just four days, its publisher said on Monday.

To meet demand for the novel that retells the first book through the eyes of its billionaire protagonist Christian Grey, Vintage Books is printing a million more copies.

"This is an astonishing number of books to sell over a weekend and speaks to the engagement and passion readers have for the Fifty Shades books," said publisher Anne Messitte, of the imprint of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, "Christian's side of the story is proving to be irresistible."

Grey had been the highest Kindle pre-order of this year on Amazon.com and shot straight to No. 1 on the online bestseller lists when it was published last Thursday. The novel was also released in Britain and in a Spanish-language version.

The Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy sold more than 125 million copies worldwide and was published in 52 languages.

In Singapore, the response to the latest kinky novel seems to have been slightly milder - for now, at least. Sales were brisk at Books Kinokuniya at Takashimaya Shopping Centre on the first day of the book's release and a bookstore assistant said that customers had called the store to reserve copies nearly two weeks in advance. However, only five copies were sold that same day at Times Bookstores in Plaza Singapura.

Grey did not make The Sunday Times' bestseller list, but the original Fifty Shades Of Grey came in at fourth place after books by Haruki Murakami, Jodi Picoult and Sophie Kinsella.

James announced the publication of the book on social media on June 1 in one of the best-kept secrets in publishing. She said she was prompted to write it by fans who wanted to know Grey's take on his relationship with college student Anastasia Steele, whom he introduces to kinky sex, sadomasochism and bondage.

Reviews for Grey have been mixed, with the Washington Post newspaper saying it is "dark and unrelenting and far too serious, like Mr Grey";

Britain's Daily Mail newspaper said James reproduces all the tediously same encounters from the first book. "With crafty economy of effort, Ms James has simply shadowed the whole plot of Book One, reproducing the clunky polystyrene dialogue word for word, and inserting italicized thoughts by Christian himself," it said.

But Adrian Liang, senior book editor at Amazon.com, believes James rose to the challenge: "Is Grey a book I'd recommend to readers who disliked Fifty Shades? No, probably not. But for those who enjoyed Fifty Shades Of Grey or had mixed feelings about the book, Grey is a confident and complex retelling that makes the overall story richer."

Fifty Shades Of Grey was turned into an R-rated film starring Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson by Comcast Corp-owned Universal Pictures, and has grossed more than US$500 million at the global box office since its February release.