'Fifty Shades Of Grey': Publishing's Sexiest Trend

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News Media Commentary
Title: 'Fifty Shades Of Grey': Publishing's Sexiest Trend
Commentator: Jason Boog
Date(s): 15 March 2012
Venue: NPR.org
Fandom: Fifty Shades of Grey, Twilight
External Links: 'Fifty Shades Of Grey': Publishing's Sexiest Trend; archive link
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'Fifty Shades Of Grey': Publishing's Sexiest Trend is a 2012 article about Fifty Shades of Grey and its fanfiction origins posted at NPR.org.

The buzz has catapulted the book to No. 1 on the New York Times paperback best-seller list, but there's one thing no one is talking about — the origins of this kinky best-seller and its implications for the industry.

The book emerged from the steamy land of fan fiction, an online community of readers who write unauthorized extensions of their favorite stories. On FanFiction.net, readers have produced a mind-boggling mountain of work: 583,000 free Harry Potter stories, 197,000 free Twilight stories and 46,000 free Lord of the Rings stories.

A few years ago, E L James posted a novel called Master of the Universe on the same site. It retold Stephenie Meyer's Twilight — with X-rated scenes.

An English professor estimates that "Masters of the Universe counted more than 37,000 reader reviews on FanFiction.net before James moved the book to her own site." The professor argues that the story and the success of the book pose a unique ethical and legal problem for the publishing industry:

"Whether the explicit, conscious use of another writer's fan base, via creation of characters known and experienced as 'versions' of the writer's characters, for commercial purposes, constitutes any kind of damage or infringement."