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'Fifty Shades' too steamy for Gwinnett library shelves

FILE- This file combo made of book cover images provided by Vintage Books shows the "Fifty Shades of Grey" trilogy by best-selling author E L James. Public libraries in several states are pulling the racy romance trilogy "Fifty Shades of Grey" from shelves or deciding not to order the best-seller at all, saying itis too steamy or too poorly written. (AP Photo/Vintage Books, File)

FILE- This file combo made of book cover images provided by Vintage Books shows the "Fifty Shades of Grey" trilogy by best-selling author E L James. Public libraries in several states are pulling the racy romance trilogy "Fifty Shades of Grey" from shelves or deciding not to order the best-seller at all, saying itis too steamy or too poorly written. (AP Photo/Vintage Books, File)

LAWRENCEVILLE — “Fifty Shades of Grey” has been deemed too steamy for the shelves at Gwinnett County Public Libraries.

The racy romance trilogy that’s been called “mommy porn” owns the top three spots on the New York Times best-seller list, and has become so popular that “Saturday Night Live” poked fun at it over the weekend. It won’t, however, be found in any of Gwinnett’s 15 public library branches, GCPL materials management director Deborah George said Wednesday.

“We actually have it as part of our standing materials management policy that we do not collect self-proclaimed erotica,” George said, “which is what ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ and the trilogy is marketed as. That’s been our practice for a long time.”

The basic gist of the novels by British author E L James is as follows: Anastasia Steele, a virgin who has just graduated college, meets Christian Grey, a rich and impeccably handsome young entrepreneur. Grey shows Steele his “playroom,” full of whips, ropes and sex toys, and asks her to sign a contract to be his “submissive” sex partner.

Before Steele signs, the pair romp mostly around Seattle — where the novel is set — performing a stunning array of erotic activities. As the sex gets more daring and Steele’s emotions more tangled, drama ensues.

George said the books cross the line from romance novel to erotica based on the “degree” and frequency of sex scenes. The overall theme is “about erotic behavior,” she said, forcing it outside the scope of Gwinnett libraries.

Despite its national popularity, George said local requests have been few and far between. Of nearly 700 online requests for additions to the library’s collection since February, only 12 have been for “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

Not that it would matter anyway.

“We are a local organization so what we monitor are our customers’ requests. Here in Gwinnett the demand has not nearly been as it has been on the national level,” she said. “But the primary decision on this is it’s out of scope. It’s not something we would purchase regardless of the number of requests.”

Gwinnett isn’t alone in choosing not to offer the books.

Other libraries in Wisconsin, Florida and Georgia have opted to ban the series or not order it to begin with. The library director in Leon County, Fla. — which includes Tallahassee — said the books don’t “suit our community standards.”

Paul Bogaards, a spokesman for series publisher Random House, called out Brevard County, another Florida community that will not be lending “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

“We believe the Brevard County Public Library System is indulging in an act of censorship, and essentially is saying to library patrons: ‘We will judge what you can read,’” he wrote in an email to the Associated Press.

— The Associated Press contributed to this article

Comments

Mack711 1 year, 11 months ago

This seems like censorship. We should have the right to read what we want. Now if they want to have an adult section in the library that is fine. From what we are seeing on some of the TV shows, like MTV and others, we are exposed to many things far worse than this. Well guess will have to go to the local book store and buy my copy.

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FordGalaxy 1 year, 11 months ago

It is censorship, Mack. But that's what happens when so many parents decide that the schools should raise their children instead of them.

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CaptainJack58 1 year, 11 months ago

Badly written erotica that shocks the average housewife? You're not missing much, Mack. You can find better erotica simply be Googling "erotica". Sigh. The huge divide between people who are sheltered & naive and those who actually know what's going on around them is VAST. This book is aimed at married people who need to jazz things up a bit (assuming they have been doing very little other than the missionary for 15+ years).

FordGalaxy, what in the world does banning a book from a public library have to do with bad parenting?

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NewsReader 1 year, 11 months ago

I don't think that was the point Mack was trying to convey Jack. It's censorship; end of story. In other words, where do these government people get off determining what content is appropriate to read?

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FordGalaxy 1 year, 11 months ago

CaptainJack, I was trying to point out what I perceive as a failing amongst populations in general. Parents have, by and large (and note that I'm not calling out ALL parents), decided that school should be where their child is raised. if the child acts out, blame the school. If the child is punished, blame the school. Never accept responsibility for your child's behavior. It actually goes very close with your analogy of sheltered and naive. When schools or libraries ban certain books, they are basically saying "we know better than you what is appropriate for you or your child."

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OrganicGrl 1 year, 11 months ago

We have a right to read whatever we want. It shouldn't be up to a board who are incompetent of making illegal land deals decide what I should and shouldn't read.

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Maxine44 1 year, 11 months ago

OrganicGrl...you do have the right to read whatever you want....but who says a tax funded agency like a library has to provide it to you???

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OrganicGrl 1 year, 11 months ago

I am not saying they have to fund it but if you had it in the library why take it out. At the end of then day I am paying property taxes and why should a tax funded agency continue to take out 2600 a year for schools when I don't have any kids.

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LilburnLady 1 year, 11 months ago

The library has not taken anything off the shelves, they simply decided not to purchase copies of these books with taxpayer funds. This is not true censorship, because the government cannot ban books, they can simply choose not to buy copies or provide copies for free to the public. I'm sure Fifty Shades of Grey is no worse than a lot of things we see on cable TV or in the movies, however, the government (i.e., taxpayers) have limited funds to use to provide free library books for the edification of the public. Personally, I don't care what people read, but I also don't want my tax dollars used to stock Playboy magazines or erotic novels in public libraries. I think there is a lot of other good literature out there that would be more useful. If you want to read it, fine. Go to any book store and purchase it or go online and pay to download it.

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Mack711 1 year, 11 months ago

I don't care what people read, but I also don't want my tax dollars used to stock Playboy magazines or erotic novels in public libraries

As per your statement above, this is personal censorship. By stating you do not wish your tax dollars spent on this is your opinion. Now some who may want to read it at the library will disagree with you and there are some who have stated so. Just because you do not like it you should not stop someone who may enjoy it from reading it.We were required to read the Scarlet Letter in school and that offended a lot but it was not removed, what is the difference? The point is with all the publicity this has gotten some want it and those who have read the comments should not stop some one from having it available in the library. Remember we all pay taxes here in Gwinnett

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Michelle67 1 year, 11 months ago

Working at a public library, I'd also like to state that when books are checked out, we don't check the contents and if it's appropriate to a certain age group. Ergo, a 12 year old could come in and check out this book. Just another reason why libraries do not buy it, because not allowing all patrons access all that is available in the library is censorship in the truest sense of the word.

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Mack711 1 year, 11 months ago

It is not your job to check the content of the books. It is the job of the parent. However some one at the Library system decided that it will not be provided and that person censored this book from the system using his/her own reasoning. This is censorship.

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Michelle67 1 year, 11 months ago

In addition, there were only 12 requests for the book/series in the entire system of Gwinnett county. It doesn't make sense to purchase a $70 book series with only 12 requests. It won't circulate, therefore the money would be wasted when it could be spent on other copies of more popular authors for various ages and genres.

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hockeynut 1 year, 11 months ago

I am currently reading book 1 and yes, it's racy but no worse than Sandra Brown or Sidney Sheldon books and I know they are still on the shelves... If nothing had ever been said about these books they would have remained on the shelves just like other ones have.. Too each his own, if you don't like the content, don't read them!! Plain and simple!!!!

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