'Fifty Shades of Grey' Effect: Sex Toy Sales Up 400 Percent Internationally
As if we needed more proof that E.L. James' "Fifty Shades of Grey" novels have officially taken over, today reports suggest the books are responsible for a 400 percent spike in the sale of sexy toys internationally.
It's no secret the books have become an international phenomenon. The "Fifty Shades of Grey" trilogy has become the publishing sensation of the decade. What started as a self-published novel on the Internet has spawned countless imitators, and with the film rights to the books picked up by Hollywood we're hearing more and more casting rumors daily.
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Internationally, the novel has caused a rise to a 400% spike in the sale of sex toys, and even led to a shortage of "ben wa balls," which feature in the book, according to South African newspaper The Times.
It seems "Fifty Shades" is having quite a liberating effect on women all over the globe, sending many who may have been too shy in the past to buy sex toys in search of whips, and chains, and more, oh my.
Chantal Edouard-Betsy, co-owner of The Bedroom, a boutique for women in Umhlanga, KwaZulu-Natal, said there has been an undeniable explosion of business since the book became available online.
"We started to see an upswing in March, before the book was available in South Africa. By June, it became absolutely evident that the book had something to do with it and that this was just the start of something new. January and June are usually our quietest months but this year June was the fourth-best month of all time," she said.
Since being published last year, "Fifty Shades of Grey" has become notorious for its explicit sexual content and controversial portrayal of a relationship involving BDSM. The novel has sold more than 30 million copies in the U.S., and more than 10 million copies to British readers, making James' book the UK's fastest-selling book of all time. All three books from James' trilogy have remained in the top five of The New Yorks Times' bestsellers list for over three months.
Women, some even in their 90s, apparently walk into the upmarket boutique and use sign language to ask for the stimulating ben wa balls.
"Some women walk into the store and ask for whips and blindfolds but then there are others who stand at the door and hold up their hands to show they want the balls and we immediately know what they are talking about. 'Fifty Shades of Grey' has started a worldwide conversation and it is really a mania," Edouard-Betsy said.
"Women who have read the book are becoming aware of their sexuality, and of accessories and toys to enhance this new-found sexuality. The book reminds women that, though we are wives, mothers and professionals, we are sexual creatures as well," she said.
Edouard-Betsy believes that the acceptance of the book has helped women move away from being ashamed of erotica.
"Because the book is not hidden in the back of a book store, women know they do not need to be ashamed of reading it. Instead, they are embracing it and their sexual desires," she said.
One such woman is a 46-year-old Durban mother. After being seduced by the book in the space of an afternoon, the beautician raced out to The Bedroom.
"I surprised myself and my husband. When you have been married for over 20 years, spicing up your marriage is daunting. I don't think I would have done it without reading 'Fifty Shades of Grey.' It sounds corny, but it did change my life," she said.
Confirming sensational success, Edouard-Betsy said "Fifty Shades of Grey" boosted both erotic fiction and sexual exploration.
"Everyone is waiting for the next best thing because E.L. James has now created a new genre. This is not a phenomenon that is going to go away. There is talk of a movie based on the book. Everyone is waiting in anticipation. If the book could have such a huge response, imagine what it would be for the movie."
Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, Matt Bomer, Robert Pattinson, and recently, even Justin Beiber, are among many actors' names that've been mentioned in casting the leading role of Christian Grey, a troubled businessman who seduces an innocent college graduate called Anastasia Steele.
While Universal has the rights to the film, and Focus Features is set to produce, James has been tightlipped on confirming casting rumors. And while names like David Cronenberg, and Bret Easton Ellis have floated around, a director and scriptwriter have still yet to be announced.