'Shades' Tops 'Hunger Games'

2012-18 REP E.L. James H

E.L. James (right, with sexologist Logan Levkoff) at a Shades event in New York City.

Fifty Shades trilogy author E.L. James has become the literary world's unlikely superstar. Big crowds greeted the author's recent two-week tour to promote the steamy novels -- 1,200 fans in Miami and New Haven, Conn., 800 in suburban Boston. That passion has helped make book one, Fifty Shades of Grey, 2012's best-selling book to date on Amazon, displacing reigning champ The Hunger Games. The trilogy also holds the top three spots on The New York Times, USA Today and Publishers Weekly best-seller lists. Nielsen BookScan says Grey had sold 1.1 million copies through May 6. Since the e-book arrived a month before the hard copy and continues to sell at about the same rate as print, total sales for the trilogy are an estimated 3.5 million to 4 million copies. Random House's Knopf imprint gambled big with a seven-figure advance for Fifty Shades, which started as Twilight fan fiction. Now, weeks after Universal bought movie rights for $5 million, book sales are increasing on a week-to-week basis. Notes Paul Bogaards, vp media relations at Knopf, "The trilogy has begun to move beyond our expectations."