by Hans Eisenbeis
It’s not uncommon for a single popular title or series to be hailed as the savior of the feeble book industry, so it comes as little surprise that publishing wonks have declared Fifty Shades of Grey to be a rousing success for its publisher, Vintage Books. 25 million copies of the soft-core pornographic trilogy have sold so far, netting Vintage more than $145 million.
More interesting, perhaps, is the sub-economy that Fifty Shades has spawned. At last count, there were more than 3,000 Shades-themed items for sale at Etsy, and condom maker Trojan has high hopes for its new line of adult toys to ride the Fifty Shades coattails into the boudoir.
There’s even a Shades-themed cooking class in Southern California, complete with Bondage Wrapped Shrimp.
WHAT THIS MEANS TO BUSINESS
Erotic potboilers come and go, but in the age of the Wheelhouse Effect, it’s possible that a single title like Fifty Shades blows up and generates a whole subculture and sub-economy. Savvy brands stay on top of these fads and anticipate when they’ll mainstream in a big way in order to capitalize on shifts in consumer sentiment, such as a new openness about alternative or creative sexuality.