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