Fifty Shades of Grey tops Malta’s list of bestsellers

Fifty Shades of Grey tops Malta’s list of bestsellers

Left: Author E.L. James

Left: Author E.L. James

The tale of a virginal heroine who falls for a bondage-loving billionaire has shot right up to the top of Malta’s bestseller booklist, mainly by word of mouth.

We had one grandmother in the other day, she grabbed the trilogy and rushed to the till

Fifty Shades of Grey – which is essentially an erotic novel – has toppled previous publishing phenomena like Harry Potter and The Da Vinci Code – and has left local bookstores gasping under the pressures of market demand.

“We are getting one consignment after the next, yet we are constantly running out of stock,” said Michael Vella de Fremaux, trade manager at Miller Distributors, which owns Agenda Bookshop.

He said that over the past few weeks sales of the book have been in “thousands” and “have shot through the roof”.

“The sales are crazy: for every book we sell, we are selling about 20 copies of Fifty Shades,” he said prompting customers to pre-book a copy when it is out of stock.

Mr Vella de Fremaux was quite surprised by the popularity of the book and its two sequels. “But then even the UK publishers were taken by the storm – and for a time it was out of print in the UK,” he said.

It is mostly women who are snapping it up, he said, which could be a reason why sales are so high.

“In Malta, women read much more than men and, unlike the Harry Potter series and The Da Vinci Code, this is a book which definitely targeted women,” he said, estimating that at least 75 per cent of readers are female.

At Merlin Library and Books Plus, the frenzy of sales is just the same. “Everyone is asking for it. Women just buy it, while men are curious about what it is about, and why everyone is talking about it,” said manager Jo Cole.

Although it has been dubbed ‘mummy porn’ by some international literary critics, there does not seem to be an age limit to it and buyers range from 18-year-olds to elderly pensioners.

“We had one grandmother in the other day, she grabbed the trilogy and rushed to the till,” said one bookseller.

“We have had a couple of male buyers, but they also feel the need to stress that ‘it’s for the wife’,” said another bookseller.

Although many people are reading it, not everyone is willing to own up to being hooked, and several expressed a wish to remain anonymous when giving their verdict.

“I can’t believe I read the three books. This is essentially terrible writing – only it’s about sex,” said one reader.

“It’s not a literary phenomenon, but it’s racy, and it’s a good guide to bedroom tips,” joked another reader.

One reader expressed concern at young girls reading the book.

“It is totally anti-feminist. The plot centres on the corruption of a virginal student by her successful, control-freak boyfriend. The message they’re getting is: be submissive,” she said.

Fifty Shades of Grey has topped bestseller lists around the world, selling 40 million copies worldwide, with book rights having been sold in 37 countries. It is about to be turned into a Hollywood film, with Angelina Jolie mooted for the lead role.

The author, E.L. James, 49, a mother-of-two from west London, rarely gives interviews and the raciest detail she has supplied about her own life is that she likes to eat Nutella straight from the jar.

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