'Fifty Shades of Grey' tops decade's best seller list

"Grey" series is big winner as Bertelsmann becomes sole owner of its publishing house

Just a day after Bertelsmann announced their intent to take full control of the ownership stake in Penguin Random House with a $675 million deal, one of the publishing house's imprints is making history.

With the second decade of the 21st century coming to a close, the numbers are in for the best-selling book of the past decade in the U.S. was “Fifty Shades of Grey,” by E.L. James, which sold 15.2 million copies from 2010 through 2019, according to new figures released by NPD Bookscan.

The series not only holds the top spot for best-selling book of the decade, its sequels hold the number two and number three spots, with "Fifty Shades Darker" selling 10.4 million copies and "Fifty Shades Freed" selling 9.3 million copies -- for a total just shy of 32 million units sold.

Beyond the top three slots with the "Grey" titles, Penguin Random House dominated the best-seller list for the decade. The publishing titan also had "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett coming in at number five with 8.7 million copies sold, "The Girl on The Train" by Paula Hawkins at number six with 8.2 million copies sold, "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn at number seven with 8.1 million copies, "The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green at number eight with 8 million copies sold, and "The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson coming in at number nine with 7.9 million copies sold.

Interesting to note that Hollywood was boosted by all of the Penguin titles on the list as each became a feature film. The top three at the movies were: The first "Grey" book/movie made $569,651,467 worldwide in 2015 for Comcast-owned Universal Studios and 20th Century Fox took in $369,330,363 with "Gone Girl" in 2013 and $307,166,834 with "The Fault in Our Stars" in 2014.

Meanwhile, the publishing house became a "bestseller" as well.

Bertelsmann, which already owns 75 percent of Penguin Random House, announced its intent to purchase the remaining 25 percent ownership stake in the publishing house from Pearson in a $675 million deal expected to close in next year’s second quarter.


The German-based publisher will have more than 275 publishing imprints across six continents once the deal is complete.

The NPD Group, a market research company, also reported that the trend of e-books fizzled out after 2013, with actual physical book copies selling 6.5 billion copies this decade compared to 1.8 billion in e-book sales, according to the press release.

“After a high point in 2013, e-books have continuously lost share to print books every year,” said Kristen McLean, books industry analyst at NPD Bookscan.

“Looking ahead, the growth in audiobooks is another trend expected to continue well into the next decade, as people shift some of their reading to listening on smart devices,” McLean added.