Last night, Brian Williams had a segment on NBC's Rock Center about a recent economic boom in the tiny town in Maine and it got me thinking. (Dangerous, eh?)
East Millinocket, like many other little towns in the U.S.A., had been struggling. Its main source of employment, Great Northern Paper Mill, was forced to shut down two years ago because of the huge reduction of paper needs around the country.
But a few months ago after the release of E.L. James' erotic trilogy, Fifty Shades of Grey (FSoG), the book’s publisher Random House, needed lots of paper to fill the demand of thousands (actually millions at last count) of readers who apparently wanted a print version.
Barnes & Noble, one of the last bookstore chains in the country, also prospered by the sales of FSoG, both in print book sales and the Nook version.
“We continued to see improvement in both our rapidly growing NOOK business, which saw digital content sales increase 46% during the quarter, and at our bookstores, which continue to benefit from market consolidation and strong sales of the Fifty Shades series,” said Chief Executive William Lynch.
I’m surprised and in awe of the popularity of FSoG, first because of the subject matter -- I’m not against erotica, just surprised at the positive reaction -- and second, because the author should have hired a better editor, but that’s a whole other story.
But, the issue that got me thinking was how the enthusiasm for this book boosted the economy in certain ways.
Since print book publishing has gone down the tubes in recent years and eBooks are supposedly the rage of the future, this huge boom in sales may be the start of putting other people back to work.
Who, you ask? Read on.
Writers of erotic prose and romance have been struggling to find publishing firms that will take a chance on producing their books. Unless their name is Nora Roberts or ... well ... E.L. James, writers are not making a living off their book sales.
I don’t know the numbers, but many, many publishers, big and small press, have had to close their doors because of the digital age of book publishing.