The hot and steamy bestseller 50 Shades of Grey has been doing more than inspiring naughty dreams for readers, it’s also been saving the finances of Barnes & Noble. The huge book retailer saw gains in its first fiscal quarter, thanks to the popularity of E.L. James’ trilogy. Although the book continues to generate controversy and criticism, books like 50 Shades could be the key to keeping bookstores alive.
Barnes & Noble is the largest bookseller in the U.S. with almost 700 locations in 50 states, and it’s still standing even after the demise of its rival Borders. However, bookstores are slowly dying off. As more people use online retailers like Amazon to purchase downloadable books, traditional books and bookstores are finding it harder to keep up. The company invested heavily in its Nook e-reader, but weak sales left investors fearing the worst. Nonetheless, the popularity of the series has helped to spur sales. This quarter, the company only lost $41 million, down from a loss of $56 million from the same quarter at this time last year.
Love it or hate it, everyone wants to read 50 Shades of Grey to see if it lives up to all the hype. Thanks to the popularity of e-readers like the Nook and Amazon’s Kindle, people can read all kinds of literature without anyone being the wiser. Considering the reaction many people have to books like 50 Shades and other graphic romance novels, the tablet has been great for the book business. James’ series in combination with new technology has even breathed life back into the dying genre. While brick-and-mortar bookstores are still trying to navigate this new frontier of digital book publishing, it seems as though novels like 50 Shades are helpful in keeping stores in business as they figure things out.
Now, if 50 Shades the book can save Barnes & Noble, one can only imagine what the inevitable 50 Shades the movie could do for a struggling studio. My guess, big bucks for whatever company is lucky enough to get the rights … and cast the right people.