50 Shades of Grey, the controversial “mommy porn” novel, has sold more than ten million copies and spent nearly three months on the top of the New York Times ’s bestseller list. The masses are clamoring to read the racy book about Christian Grey, a young billionaire who seduces (and ultimately falls for) Anastasia Steele, a naif with a strong will, hot bod, and adventurous sexual streak. Grey has become so popular that libraries can’t keep it on the shelves, resulting in wait lists longer than the lines at Franklin BBQ.
And library systems in Texas are no exception.
According to Erin Mulvaney of the Houston Chronicle, the Houston Public Library has stocked twelve copies of the trilogy’s first novel; there are 418 “holds,” or people waiting to check it out. (The second highest number of holds is for Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games, at 168.) And 683 people are waiting to check out one of the 26 copies in the Harris County Library system. “It is a popular book so we are buying it, and there is definitely community interest,” Harris County Library director Rhoda Goldberg told Mulvaney.
Kris Sweckard, the interim director of the Dallas Public Library, told the Dallas Morning News ’ Scott Parks that his library had 93 copies of Grey and 467 readers have put holds on the book. The breakdown at some other North Texas library systems? According to Parks, Plano has 29 copies and 129 holds; Garland has twelve copies and 95 holds; Richardson bought six copies and has 65 holds; and Irving carries eight copies and has 73 holds.
Not all state libraries are willing to compromise their morals for more foot traffic. According to Mulvaney, the Montgomery County Public Library, which reviews books based on write-ups in Publisher’s Weekly and other library journals, rejected the book, saying it plans to focus its limited resources on stocking “the best of the best.”
Dozens of library systems across the country have banned 50 Shades, a move declared unconstitutional by Random House, the book’s publisher. But Lisa Loranc, assistant director at Brazoria County Public Library countered to Mulvaney, “Ensuring quality is not the same as censorship. …There has been some interest, but not enough to offset the cost. It’s simply not a well-written book.”
Unsurprisingly, when TM Daily Post called the Waco-McLennan County Library, we were told that it didn’t have a copy. Residents in the notoriously straitlaced community will have to personally pony up the cash if they want to read the book. Or borrow it from a depraved friend in Dallas.