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This book cover image provided by Vintage Books shows "Fifty Shades of Grey," by E L James. (AP)
This book cover image provided by Vintage Books shows "Fifty Shades of Grey," by E L James. (AP)

Harlequin, Cosmo seek 'Fifty Shades' heat with new e-book deal Add to ...

Harlequin Enterprises Ltd. and Cosmopolitan are hooking up to satiate a seemingly voracious appetite for erotica following the massive success of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy.

The Toronto-based publisher struck a deal with the world’s largest women’s magazine to crank out two e-books a month, written by authors who have had success with Harlequin in the past. Erotica has emerged as a mainstream phenomenon since the Fifty Shades series debuted in 2011 and brought in more than half a billion dollars in sales, with publishers around the world trying to replicate the success.

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“When you just look at the magnitude of it, the sales of those three books are bigger than our entire retail division in North America,” Harlequin chief executive office Donna Hayes said recently.

Part of the trilogy’s success has been the e-reader – people who may not have wanted the world to know what they were reading can now read the graphic sex scenes in public without anyone knowing what they’re up to. Harlequin and Cosmo’s first e-reader-ready short story will be available in May.

“The novels, by some of Harlequin’s bestselling authors, will have strong narratives centring on modern young women living the free-spirited and outgoing lifestyle espoused by the international magazine,” the companies stated in a release.

In October, Ms. Hayes said the success of Fifty Shades of Grey was reverberating through the industry but was starting to abate. With sales of Fifty Shades of Grey finally slowing, she said, there is an opportunity for other publishers to snap up readers recently introduced to the genre.

The publisher has reached into its back catalogue to try and satiate some of the demand, but said the short stories published under the deal are intended to appeal to “women everywhere, especially new adult fiction readers.”

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