Fifty Shades Illuminated: Who Is Actually Reading the Book in the U.S. and UK?

Think that every reader of the year’s biggest hit Fifty Shades of Grey fits a certain stereotype? Think again.

According to new research from Bowker Market Research, the Fifty Shades readership in the U.S. is a diverse group:

— 30% are women with kids at home
— 20% are men
— 14% are people older than 55

As one might expect about 90% of readers bought the book for “pleasure/relaxation,” according to a statement from Bowker, but 1% bought it for “work/career” reasons.

Typical U.S. readers of Fifty Shades “are more likely to be women, live in the Northeast, and have a significantly higher household income. They read fewer paperbacks and more digital books versus last year and are especially likely to use a hand-held device such as a Kindle.”

The readership in the UK is similarly diverse:

— 35% are women with kids at home
— 30% are men
— 13% are people older than 55

In the UK, the reasons people bought the book differed from in the U.S. Some 20% were gifts, about 2% were purchased for “‘reference,’ ‘study’ or ‘self help,'” and 1% were even purchased as a gift for a parent.

Typical UK readers of Fifty Shades “more likely to be married women, in part time work or looking after the home, and living in the North of England. They read for escapism, but say they don’t read as much as they used to. They were more likely than average to be tabloid readers – about 25 percent read the Sun — and users of Facebook and Twitter.”

About one in six UK Fifty Shades readers discovered the title through social media.


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