Now we know why Random House gave every one of its employees a $5,000 bonus last year: The Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy by EL James sold more than 70 million copies in print, ebook, and audio formats, reports the Wall Street Journal. That makes it the fastest-selling series in Random House history and one of the fastest for any publisher ever. Consider that the No. 2 best-seller for the company in 2012 was Gone Girl, which sold 2 million copies in various formats.
The Guardian notes that half of Fifty Shades sales were in the ebook format, perhaps because readers could carry it around without risk of nosy people knowing the title. The numbers, incidentally, are still nowhere near Harry Potter's. That seven-book series has sold more than 450 million copies around the world, a figure that does not include ebooks. Still, Fifty Shades helped Random House's operating profit surge 75% in a struggling industry.