In August last year Random House claimed that 50 Shades of Grey had become Britain’s bestselling book of all time, selling 5.3 million copies in the UK.
That’s right 5.3 million copies of the first book, and about 12 million copies of the trilogy combined in the UK alone. And the newspapers kept crowing that 50 Shades of Grey had outsold J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter series. But let’s take a look at the actual figures.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows sold more than 15 million copies in the first 24 hours of its release, with 8.3 million copies sold in the US and 2.7 million copies in the UK. This smashed the previous global record of 9 million for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and 5 million for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. In the first 24 hours of release.
The “bestselling book of all time” figures compare sales from the first week Fifty Shades of Grey was released with the paperback release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in the UK. All of the paperbacks in the series were released twelve months after the hardcover release. Deathly Hallows had already sold around 44 million copies worldwide before the release of the paperback. To date the series has sold more than 450 million copies worldwide.
50 Shades global sales (allegedly over 50 million of the three books combined) have yet to beat Noddy or Nancy Drew. Or Twilight for that matter. Or even Chicken Soup for the Soul. The figure comprised print and e-book sales combined, meaning it didn’t actually beat Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in print sales. Nor did Random House take into account the number or people who accidentally bought the book not realising it was smut, causing charity shops to crowd the book on the shelves next to the endless rows of The Da Vinci Code.
It’s old news I know, but I came across someone referencing an article from The Telegraph last year and experienced a fresh bout of rage. So you can stop sobbing into your Philosopher’s Stone. Save your tears for the dreadful movie they’re making.