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What all the contributors here seem to agree on is that Fifty Shades has become a “game changer” both for publishers and readers, though what this contagious little meme actually conveys is not always clear. In her introduction, Fifty Ways to Look at Fifty Shades, editor Lori Perkins refers positively to the trilogy, going so far as to gush, “I am awed to see the birth of a new erotic classic”, and hope “. . . that these books will usher in a publishing tidal wave of female-centered commercially successful erotica, giving women a new voice for sexual, political and financial choices.” In her essay, Fifty Shades of Change, Louise Fury claims that “. . . what The Vagina Monologues did for women and their vaginas, Fifty Shades has done for women and smut.” In a piece appropriately enough entitled The Game Changer, M. Christian seems reluctantly to agree, though he laments, “It would just be nice that the paradigm shift in literature and publishing would have been better written.” He goes on to say;
It’s still a total and complete game changer. For one thing, it’s pretty much the final nail in the old school old school world of print publishing. Sure, that model has been gasping and wheezing for a few years now, but for a teeny weeny and badly written book to do what New York dreamt of doing shows once and for all that they need to burn down their old ways and finally begin to embrace the lean, mean, and cutting edge world of e-books.
It’s also another shovel of dirt on another corpse; the concept of old-school marketing. Fifty Shades didn’t succeed because of its brilliant prose, it’s immense advertising budget, or inspired publicity. It scored that coveted number one spot because “mom” E.L. James jumped right in, feetfirst, to social networking and viral marketing with a dogged persistence that’s, frankly, a bit scary. The only bad side of this is—sigh—that for the next five to ten years we’re gonna be bombarded not just with Fifty Shades knock-offs, but all those authors trying the same tricks James did.”