Martine Rolls: Fifty Shades of curiosity

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The most popular story on our website bayofplentytimes.co.nz so far this week is one by James Fuller that was published in the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend, on the global success of Fifty Shades of Grey.

The book has helped broaden people's minds, according to the owners of Tauranga's adult stores.

To speak of a bondage boom in the Bay might be a little exaggerated, but the city's adult shops have reported increased sales and higher inquiry numbers in the wake of Fifty Shade's blockbusting run.

Good for them!

I am nearly finished reading Fifty Shades Darker, the second book in the trilogy.

And I have the third one lined up as I bought all three of them in a convenient GrabOne deal a few weeks back.

Now I'm halfway through, I do wonder why this trilogy of fluff has become such an enormous success.

It's not exceptionally well written, and it certainly isn't the naughtiest book I've ever read.

All of a sudden it was everywhere, and I also picked it up because I wanted to know what the fuss was about.

That directly answers my question.<inline type="poll" id="5896" align="outside"/>

It's such a huge success because of a clever marketing machine that created a hype that was fed by the media and boosted even more with social media.

Even though I don't think it is very good, I'm still glad that this book has taken the world by storm, not in the last place because it got people reading again.

For the readers, a bit of fantasy like this can be a welcome escape from the everyday drag, and it's certainly good for business.

The publishing industry, book stores, naughty shops, Audi, as well as hardware stores are no doubt reeling in the benefits.

I find it interesting that the first volume of Fifty Shades was released as an e-book.

It became a print-on-demand paperback in May 2011, and a bit of research on Google explains that this was an initiative from Writers' Coffee Shop based in Australia.

The other two books followed within six months.

The trilogy began to rapidly gather momentum on the internet through blogs and social media. Around the first few months of this year, the books were flying off the shelves of practically every book retailer in the Western world.

Well done to E.L. James.

Another thing I find quite curious, despite the fact that it's getting a bit stale now, is the Fifty Shades spin-off.

There's Fifty Shades of Green, a strange recycling initiative to stop landfills being overrun with sex toys launched by American actress and model Kathy Griffin.

Or Fifty Shades of Blue, a weird parody by Funny Or Die, with Selena Gomez and Nick Kroll.

Or have you heard of Fifty Shades of Fear?

Apparently the books have made women demand more from their men, and many men don't like that much.

To keep it local, Annah Stretton is organising a Fifty Shades of Style event at the Grey St store next week, where you can learn to dress for your inner-goddess.

Now that'd be interesting.

Anyway, I do wonder what else will come along, and if anything will pop up soon that will rival the success of Fifty Shades.

At least it's reassuring that digital technology gives every book a chance to shine.

Not raunchy per se, but quite remarkable and interesting for people who like to read is the local initiative oceanbooks.co.nz.

It's a website and e-store that was launched by a collective of local authors in March this year.

Oceanbooks aims to mainly reach the local market here in the Bay of Plenty, and brings together a whole bunch of talented local writers. They don't operate along traditional publishing lines, and don't accept book submissions from authors who are not part of the co-operative.

Via digital media, meaning using a computer, Kindle or another e-reader, iPad, tablet or smartphone, readers can purchase e-books or printed books.

The best thing is that Oceanbooks channels 75 per cent of the purchase price back to the writer.

I guess with all this happening now, there is still hope for people like me who would like to retire one day, hopefully early, hide away in a little cottage in the Coromandel with a vege garden and some farm animals, and take the time to write a book or three.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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