More Shades of Grey

Article excerpt

Byline: Lizzie Crocker

Publishing goes looking for S&M.

With more than 20 million copies sold in four months in the U.S., the erotic Fifty Shades trilogy seems to be giving mouth-to-mouth to the barely breathing book industry--and slipping in some tongue for good measure. The series accounted for one in five adult print books sold this spring, so it makes sense that publishers are scrambling to reproduce its success.

"E.L. James has opened up these genres to a whole new subset of readers who might not have previously been familiar with them," said Paul Bogaards, executive vice president of Knopf, whose imprint, Vintage, publishes Fifty Shades. Sylvia Day's Bared to You, an erotic romance with Grey-like themes (emotionally burdened characters and rough sex), has climbed to the top 10 on several bestseller lists. Originally self-published in April, Bared to You was picked up a month later by Berkley Books and marketed as a Fifty Shades clone, down to its gray book jacket featuring a pair of cuff links and the tagline: "He possessed me and obsessed me."

Day insists Bared to You is different from Fifty Shades because it's not a Cinderella story, but she didn't fight Berkley's marketing strategy and even thanked E.L. James in the back of the book.

"Fifty Shades has absolutely contributed to sales," said Day, whose previous bestselling book, Bad Boys Ahoy! …