As the decade draws to a close, it’s time to again acknowledge the power of flat-footed erotica: The NPD Group reports that “Fifty Shades of Grey” is the best-selling book of the decade.
The E.L. James title sold 15.2 million copies between 2010 and 2019. More depressing? The second-biggest seller is the sequel, “Fifty Shades Darker,” at 10.2 million copies. And the third is “Fifty Shades Freed,” at 9.3 million.
But despite the enduring appeal of the of that unhappy billionaire Christian Trevelyan Grey, NPD’s analysis of the best-selling titles for the last ten years uncovers some important trends in book-buying.
Perhaps the biggest winner is books themselves, with 6.5 billion in print sold in the decade. That compares to just 1.8 billion e-books, which many expected to pulverize sales of paper books. “After a high point in 2013, e-books have continuously lost share to print books every year,” says Kristen McLean, books industry analyst, NPD Bookscan, in the announcement.
“Looking ahead, the growth in audiobooks is another trend expected to continue well into the next decade, as people shift some of their reading to listening on smart devices.”
The ten biggest books of the decade are all novels, with the three E.L. James titles followed by “The Hunger Games,” “The Help,” “The Girl on The Train,” “Gone Girl,” “The Fault in Our Stars,” “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” and “Divergent.” And three of those titles “The Hunger Games,” “The Fault in Our Stars,” and “Divergent” — were originally published for the Young Adult market.
But while those titles, all helped by screen adaptations, dominated the decade’s best sellers, reader preferences shifted to nonfiction as the decade wore on. In 2010, about 80% of the best-selling titles were novels. By this year, that percentage had fallen to 32%. Cookbooks, self-help and politics have been among the biggest winners.
McLean also notes that as the years ticked by, average page count has dropped, as more people read books on tablets and mobile phones.