Love it or Hate it: 'Fifty Shades of Grey' on High Demand
“We own it, but the holds list is pretty long,” said Kelly Bennett, circulation coordinator at the Ferndale Public Library.
Have you read Fifty Shades of Grey yet? Do you plan to?
The erotic New York Times best-seller has created a national stir and the local chatter shows that despite how controversial the novel is, it’s on high demand to either love or hate.
The book is part of a trilogy that includes Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, written by E L James. Some say it’s just the next generation of popular erotica, though others believe it’s a new, inappropriate level of “porn for mommies.”
Regardless of all of the conflicting circles of criticism and praise, it seems locals are doing whatever they can to get their hands on a copy, just to see for themselves. The Ferndale Public Library’s copy of Fifty Shades of Grey, for example, currently has 10 holds on it.
Is its fame a surprise?
Victor Wooddell, owner of Berkley Book Corner, says he’s trying to keep up with the demand of area readers requesting Fifty Shades of Grey. That’s been next to impossible, though.
“I can’t keep it on my shelf. I’ve had at least a dozen special orders,” he said.
Wooddell noticed a sudden spike in interest three or four weeks ago when the book was featured on NPR, he said, and has had a constant stream of orders ever since.
Currently, Berkley Book Corner is sold out of the book that’s being dubbed “porn for mommies.”
“It’s middle-aged women, absolutely, I assume mostly moms,” Wooddell said about the readers and fans coming into the store lately in search of the book.
He added that while he hasn’t read the full book, saying “It’s never around long enough for me to read,” he’s not surprised at its wild popularity.
“You know, every once in a while, once in a generation, a book like this is published,” he explained, “It’s a common romance theme. The only thing that is different is the type of writing involved. The story itself isn’t that unusual.”
How locals are reacting
While most reviewers around the country have given the book high marks, many local women who have been able to read the erotic tale deem it inappropriate.
Rochester Patch blogger and local counselor Ann O'Neill posted a scathing review of Fifty Shades of Grey that brought a lot of reader reaction in the comments. O'Neill criticizes the writing style and content of the book, which describes a BDSM (Bondage, Discipline or Dominant, Sadism or Submissive, Masochistic) relationship.
Another local activist and blogger from Ferndale, Amanda Levitt, weighed in on the topic, also criticizing the way BDSM relationships are depicted. In her blog post, she encourages women to read the book, however, and arrive at a conclusion on their own.
“Dismissing the series and then also labeling it as anti-feminist or touting that you are superior to others because you haven’t read it, because it’s erotica or because there are problems with the relationship in the series it, is offensive,” she writes.
Levitt hopes women will think critically about the content and make educated decisions about the storylines, rather than jumping to conclusions based on high marks or poor reviews.
The challenge of locating a copy
For readers still searching to get their hands on a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey, there’s a long line at local libraries, too, which goes to show how popular the book really is.
Like most in Oakland County, the Ferndale Public Library’s copy of Fifty Shades of Grey in on high demand and the wait is expected to be an extensive one.
“We own it, but the holds list is pretty long,” explained Kelly Bennett, circulation coordinator, adding that there were 10 holds for the specific copy in Ferndale.
Because the Ferndale Public Library is part of a larger network of Oakland County libraries, Bennett said patrons are on lists to hold copies from other locations. She said many local libraries, such as Hazel Park, Madison Heights, Oak Park and Royal Oak, own copies.
“Of course, they are all checked out,” she added, with a laugh.
In total, there were 1,001 holds placed on the 74 copies of Fifty Shades of Grey that can be found among area libraries.
If you just can't wait, the book is available for purchase online and for Kindle and other e-readers.