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This picture gives me hope that there may be some scrupulous booksellers left in the literate world.

Fifty Shades of Grey, the much-hyped bit of erotica with a fantasy BDSM element, is a trendy read that has, according to sales, captured both the sexual attention and sexual imagination of American women. As of April 2012, sales for the book in the U.S. had reached almost 50 million copies, a feat accomplished in less than 14 months.

Contrary to reports, the story was not first published on James’ personal website 50Shades.com in December of 2010. It was originally a work of Twilight fan fiction entitled Master of the Universe - 50 Shades of Fucked Up under the James pseudonym Snowqueens Icedragon that she published on a fanfiction website, which you can read here. (Incidentally, James is the pseudonym for British television executive Erika Leonard, presumably where she gets the E.L. part of her James pseudonym.)

James’s agent Valerie Hoskins explains 50 Shades beginnings thusly; “Originally it was written as fan fiction, then Erika decided to take it down after there were some comments about the racy nature of the material. She took it down and thought, I’d always wanted to write. I’ve got a couple unpublished novels here. I will rewrite this thing, and create these iconic characters, Christian and Anna. If you read the books, they are nothing like Twilight now. It’s very 21st Century, don’t you think?”

On DearAuthor.com Jane Litte ran Fifty Shades of Grey and Master of the Universe through three comparison engines. Turnitin found a similarity index of 89% between the two works. There are large pieces of text where the only things changed were the character names used in Master of the Universe to the names used in Fifty Shades of Grey. However, if you want know if the scene with the bloody tampon from Master of the Universe made it into the Fifty Shades of Grey series, you will have to read for yourself.

Now, on to the purpose of my post; there are many better alternatives in the erotica/BDSM genre. Works of fiction they are but, most importantly, they are works inspired. For The Story of O, it was a comment made by the author’s boyfriend about women writers not being unable to create a work as important or sexually valid as the writings of the Marquis de Sade. In the case of Rice’s Beauty series, she used the familiar story of Sleeping Beauty to tell a modern tale of a girl’s transition to sexual womanhood.

Here are a few suggestions:

The Story of O                                    by Pauline Reáge
aka
Dominique Aury
aka
Anne Desclos

Domination and submission in 1950’s Paris. It was also used as a research/resource tool by Anne Rice for her Beauty series.

Exit To Eden                                       by Anne Rampling

aka

Anne Rice

Welcome to Eden; An exclusive, privately-owned island where you can explore either your Dominance or submission. Nothing like the movie of the same name.

The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty       {All by A.N. Roquelaure

Beauty’s Punishment                                       aka

Beauty’s Release                                       Anne Rice

This three book series is Anne Rice’s vision of the true story behind Sleeping Beauty.
Anne did not reveal herself as the author until a decade after the books were published.

Chronicles of Counter-Earth               by John Norman
aka
The Gorean Saga
This is geared for those readers that prefer BDSM  more Master/slave oriented and in a science fiction setting. It is a 31 book series about a world in which all women are slaves (kajira) except for the rare few that reach Free Woman (non-slave) status. These books inspired a considerable following in the 90’s, both online and in r/l, in the Dominance/submission-Master/slave subculture.

*It’s noteworthy that the female authors felt the need to publish their work under a pseudonym. This might not be unusual during Desclos’s time in the 1950’s but that Anne still felt she needed that kind of protection in the anti-pornography climate of the second-wave feminist 80’s is revealing.