"Fifty Shades of Grey" drives record profits for Random House

Operating profits increased 75 percent in one year

By Prachi Gupta

Published March 26, 2013 12:51PM (EDT)

E.L. James' "Twilight" fan-fiction trilogy, "Fifty Shades of Grey," has perhaps singlehandedly boosted record profits for its publisher, Random House. In 2012, the book dubbed as "mommy porn" sold 70 million copies in ebook, print and audio format, driving operating profits to increase 75 percent from the previous year at 325 million euros ($418 million).

The breakdown in sales, from the Guardian:

"About 50 percent of revenues from the trilogy were from ebooks, compared to Random House's global average of about 20 percent from digital sales. 'Fifty Shades' accounted for almost 1 in 10 of the 750 million books Random House sold globally in print or online across the year."

The unprecedented success of the book, which James originally self-published in 2011 before a Random House subdivision reissued the series, has reassured an industry that is still adapting to the digital age:

" 'In 2012 our profits and sales hit an absolute record level, a historic all-time high,' said Markus Dole, chairman and chief executive of Random House. 'Our success has shown again one thing very clearly, that the core of our business in the 21st century, in a digital age, remains the same. It is so important to continually invest in content and creativity and to market that well.'

[Random House parent company] Bertelsmann's chief executive, Thomas Rabe, also hailed the success of 'Fifty Shades,' adding that Random House had 33 books top the New York Times 2012 bestseller list, including John Grisham's 'The Racketeer' and Rod Stewart's autobiography."

Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at pgupta@salon.com.

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Books E.l. James Ebooks Fifty Shades Of Grey Literature Mommy Porn Publishing Random House