NEW YORK -- The story of 2012 in publishing was the story of "Fifty Shades of Grey," in more ways than one.
E L James' erotic trilogy was easily the year's biggest hit, selling more than 35 million copies in the U.S. alone and topping bestseller lists for months. Through James' books and how she wrote them, the general public was educated in the worlds of romance/erotica, start-up publishing and "fan fiction."
But the success of James' novels also captured the dual state of the book market -- the advance of e-books and the resilience of paper. In a year when print was labeled as endangered and established publishers referred to as "legacy" companies, defined and beholden to the past, the allure remained for buying and reading bound books.
"Fifty Shades" began as an e-phenomenon, understandable since digital erotica means you can read it in public without fear of discovery. But sales for the paperbacks quickly caught up to those for e-books and have surpassed them for the last several months.
Publishers from several major houses agreed that e-books comprise 25-30 percent of overall sales, exponentially higher than a few years ago, but not nearly enough to erase the power of paper.