If you want to get people fired up, just start talking about sex and censorship. At least that is the lesson libraries across the country are learning thanks to the Fifty Shades trilogy.
The best-selling racy and romantic series by British author E. L. James tells the story of literature student Anastasia Steele’s sexual escapades with young entrepreneur Christian Grey. According to Amazon.com, the books focus on the relationship between protagonists Grey and Steele, with explicit details of the pair's sexual encounters.
The Anne Arundel County Public Library system currently has 265 copies of Fifty Shades of Grey available, and just ordered 15 more audio copies, according to Laurie Hayes, Anne Arundel County Library spokeswoman.
An online catalog search revealed that the library has 59 copies each of the other books in the series: Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed. All of the copies are currently checked out, according to the library's website.
However, not all libraries in Maryland are embracing the trilogy.
The Baltimore Sun recently reported that the Harford County Library system has decided not to carry any copies of Fifty Shades of Grey, despite the popularity of the triology.
"In the case of Fifty Shades of Grey, we read mainstream reviews that characterized the content as pornography," Jennifer Ralston, HCPL materials management administrator, told The Sun. "The library does not purchase pornography, and we therefore did not purchase the book."
The Anne Arundel County Public Library system did not have the same opinion on the book.
“It is a very popular book and people are interested in reading it,” Hayes told Patch. “It doesn’t violate any of our polices, so we ordered it the same way we would order any other book that has generated that much buzz.”
The waitlist for Fifty Shades of Grey currently has about 675 people on it and, according to Hayes, it has been a popular book since it went on the shelves.
In response to a Facebook post that asked if anyone read the book, user Georgia Fowler Brackett commented, “Have read all three. Great book. Each book ended with you wanting more.”
The book has stirred up issues of censorship across the country.
According to an article from ABC News, the Brevard County Library system pulled copies of Fifty Shades of Grey earlier this month. However, due to a public outcry of censorship, the county put the book back on the shelves this week.
“We had originally bought about 200 copies, and none of them are on the shelves because there are 600-and-some people on the hold list,” Hayes said. “I think I am number 543 on the list.”
I confess: This Patch editor just ordered her copy on Amazon. Have you read Fifty Shades of Grey? Tell us in the comments.