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Fifty Shades of Grey breaks sales records

14th June 2012

E. L. James' Fifty Shades of Grey is continuing to set the bestseller charts alight, after reaching the 550,000 paperback sales mark faster than any other book in UK history, surpassing the record-breaking Harry Potter series.

After becoming only the fourth paperback novel to sell 100,000 copies in a single week in the UK in April, it reached the 550,000 milestone this week and shows no signs of slowing down, according to Nielsen BookScan data.

The three books in the series - Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed – have been publishing sensations since debuting as Twilight fan fiction online.

Originally titled Master of the Universe, the novel that would become Fifty Shades of Grey quickly became a hit with Twilight fans and, after James changed the names of the characters and expanded the story, the novel soon caught the attention of The Writers' Coffee Shop, a virtual publisher based in Australia.

Two sequels were soon written and, thanks to word-of-mouth and a viral marketing campaign, the popularity of the books soared, which led Vintage Books to pick up the licence and re-release revised editions in April this year.

Over ten million copies of the first instalment in the series have now been sold and a film version is in the works after Universal picked up the rights in March, with American Psycho author and screenwriter Bret Easton Ellis volunteering to adapt the novel for the big screen.

'Completely committed to adapting Fifty Shades of Grey. This is not a joke,' he wrote this week.

'Hope E. L. James doesn't think I'm being a prankster. I really want to adapt her novels for the screen. Christian Grey [the series protagonist] is a writer's dream,' he added.

Ryan Gosling and Alexander Skarsgard are reportedly Easton Ellis' preferred picks to play Grey, with Scarlett Johansson his first choice to play the main female character, Ana.

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