It's really FIVE Shades Of Grey: Analysis reveals that only one in ten finishes the bestseller – and we prefer the less risque bits
21:04 GMT, 11 August 2012
Thrill seeker: Alex enjoys the steamy novel on an e-reader
They are spotted everywhere – wide-eyed and open-mouthed, gripped to Fifty Shades Of Grey.
But next time you see someone reading this summer’s racy bestseller, don’t leap to any conclusions about which passages they are poring over.
For it’s very likely they are reading one of the lengthy exchanges between lovers Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in which they do nothing more than talk – fully clothed.
The revelation comes from electronic data which also reveals that readers might be male, not female. And they are unlikely to finish the erotic page-turner – even though many fans boast they consume the whole book in days or even hours.
E. L. James’s novel is now the bestselling book in the UK since records began, with more than 5.3 million copies sold in paper and ebook forms.
About 70 per cent of readers bought it in the electronic format – and this technology has revealed intriguing titbits about how we read the book.
Data collected by Kobo, the firm which makes ebook readers sold by W H Smith, shows that only 18,000 readers using the system who rated the book after buying it have finished it so far – just 10.5 per cent of a total of 170,000.
Kobo also allows readers to ‘write in the margins’.
‘Most people commented on Chapters 1, 5 and 23,’ says Kobo executive vice-president Todd Humphrey. ‘But almost every chapter drove thousands of people to highlight passages.’
Chapter 1 introduces heroine Anastasia in her interview with telecoms billionaire Grey. Chapter 5 brings the reader to his home for the first time. Chapter 23, towards the end, is considerably steamier, but none of these chapters ranks among the book’s most sexually explicit. Most of the comments are enthusiastic – ‘Kiss him or I will!’ one urges Anastasia, while another breathlessly claims: ‘I have sparks coming out of my Kobo.’
When Grey writes ‘I’d like to bite that lip,’ another reader comments: ‘Almost frustrating, isn’t it!’
About 70 per cent of readers bought E.L. James's bestseller in the electronic format
Kobo is Facebook’s official e-reading partner. Its data suggests that about a tenth of the readers of James’s novel are men. These male readers are less impressed than the women who leave comments.
One complains about James’s habit of using the expression ‘Holy cr*p’.
Another simply says ‘You can tell it was written by a man,’ even though James – real name Erika Leonard – is a mother of two living in West London. Other electronic readers, such as Amazon’s Kindle, store similar information and allow users to highlight passages. However, Amazon – like fellow ebook rivals Google and Apple – will not comment on its use of such technologies.
The ‘digital bookmark’ stored by devices when you take a break from reading an ebook allows the device to collect information on how they are read – which could be used to deliver feedback to authors or publishers.
Some experts predict that the feedback will eventually shape sequels or even rewrites.