Fifty Shades of Grey, that Twilight fanfic-turned-phenomenon you’ve probably heard of a few times, has sold over 30 million copies since its publication. Just today, Amazon UK announced that Fifty Shades has sold more copies on its website than any other book.
That’s right. A book about BDSM erotica has sold more copies than all seven Harry Potter novels combined.
In a YouTube video called “How the Internet Can Troll Fifty Shades of Grey,” they explain their plan for world domination via e-book. Citing bestseller lists crowded with “poorly written erotic fiction written to cash in on an obvious trend,” they state their intention to “have the Internet write a book” that is “completely crowdsourced,” with “little cohesion amongst the chapters.”
The result of this group-written masterpiece is onsale now for $.99 in the iTunes store. The Diamond Club: A Novel, by “Patricia Harkins-Bradley” even has a crowdsourced summary:
When Brianna Young discovers that Roman Dyle, the man she built a relationship and a multimillion dollar company with, has gotten married to another woman behind her back, she embarks on a journey to realize her dreams of professional and sexual revenge for everything she had endured at the hands of Roman. Brianna seeks her romance from The Diamond Club, an exotic gathering of the Bay Area's most attractive and interesting people, from angel investors and airline pilots to worldfamous chefs and dubstep artists. Gripping and emotionallycharged [sic], The Diamond Club is a story of revenge and discovery that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Despite what Brushwood and Young might believe, they are not the first to attempt to scam the internet by piecemealing together a pdf file and calling it a book. Amazon’s plagiarism problem is well-known, with spam authors scrambling together titles that rarely make sense, but which sell to unsuspecting readers anyway. The only difference between scammer practice and Brushwood and Young’s stunt (which has already swindled the unsuspecting) is that the former is making money; the latter is making a point.
Brushwood and Young may be commenting on the generic nature of erotica and its effects on the publishing industry, but it’s not clear if they’ve actually read any of the books they are attempting to skewer. It seems unlikely, given that they have yet to read their own.
In fact, the week they published their YouTube vid lambasting the plethora of “poorly written erotic fiction” on the bestsellers lists, The New York Times actually listed only one other work of erotic fiction in its top ten list. And only one of the examples shown in Brushwood and Young’s video actually is an erotic novel packaged to look like Fifty Shades. Emily Griffin’s Where We Belong looks like anything but erotica, while Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl is a bestselling suspense thriller that’s been riding the charts for weeks.
In fact, the only thing the books have in common, apart from high sales, is that they were all written by women. If anything, the pranksters’ primary motivation seems to be a dislike of Fifty Shades and the people who buy it.
Still, with former authors of Twilight fanfic being plucked from e-book obscurity and launched into seven-figure book deals, it’s not difficult to see where Brushwood and Young are coming from. Fans clearly agree: Diamond Club already has nearly 1400 reviews on iTunes and is ranked #570 in the Kindle Store. Last night Tekzilla host Veronica Belmont read excerpts from the book on the popular livecast Vaginal Fantasy with Felicia Day. Choice excerpts include, “I’ll be serving you hot-roasted nuts on this flight.”
No word yet on how many copies have actually sold, but according to one fan, the creators intend to put the profits of their endeavor towards a DragonCon party.
At the rate their fake novel is drawing attention, they should have quite a shindig.
Photo via iTunes