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Or as the handwritten tag on a paperback copy in a Montclair, N. The problem has been finding it. The first book of a trilogy, it was published by a tiny independent press in Australia, and distribution in print has been limited and sluggish, leaving bookstores deprived of copies.
Now American publishers have just concluded a battle over the rights to re-release the book in the blockbuster fashion they think it deserves. This week, Vintage Books, part of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, known for its highbrow literary credentials, won a bidding war for the rights to all three books, paying a seven-figure sum.
On Monday, the publisher will release new e-book editions of the trilogy.
Weeks later will come a ,copy print run of redeed paperback editions. The books, which were released in the last year, center on the lives and affection for whips, chains and handcuffs of Christian Grey, a rich, handsome tycoon, and Anastasia Steele, an innocent college student, who enter into a dominant-submissive relationship.
Except this book has been credited with something else: introducing women who usually read run-of-the-mill literary or commercial fiction to graphic, heavy-breathing erotica. And in the cities and suburbs of New York, Denver and Minneapolis, the women who have devoured the books say they are feeling the happy effects at home.
One Long Island woman, who insisted on anonymity so that she would not embarrass her employer, said the book had gained an obsessive following among her friends, the first erotic novel they have ever discussed.
The trilogy has its detractors. Commentators have shredded the books for their explicit violence and antiquated treatment of women, made especially clear in the character of Anastasia, an awkward naif who consents to being stalked, slapped and whipped with a leather riding crop. Online reviewers have criticized the author for her plodding prose and habit of printing lengthy contracts and e-mail exchanges between characters in the text. But executives at Vintage say they believe that sales of the series so far are just the tip of the iceberg.
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