Alison Flood 

Fifty Shades of Grey banned from Florida libraries

Bestselling erotic novel removed from shelves in Brevard County as other US libraries make the most of title's popularity
  
  

It's the fastest selling book of the year in the UK but British author EL James's erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey is just too pornographic for residents of Brevard County, Florida, according to local librarians.

The book, which traces the increasingly sadomasochistic relationship between a young student and a rich businessman with a fondness for bondage, has been removed from shelves in libraries in the Florida district. "It's quite simple – it doesn't meet our selection criteria," Cathy Schweinsberg, library services director, told Florida Today. "Nobody asked us to take it off the shelves. But we bought some copies before we realised what it was. We looked at it, because it's been called 'mommy porn' and 'soft porn.' We don't collect porn."

Brevard does stock copies of the Kama Sutra, Fanny Hill, Fear of Flying, Tropic of Cancer and Lolita – "because those other books were written years ago and became classics because of the quality of the writing," said Schweinsberg. James's novel, which has sold more than three million copies in the US and racked up over 100,000 sales in its first week on sale in the UK, "is not a classic", she explained.

A local resident has now started a campaign to return the book to the area's libraries, "because banning books is wrong, no matter what the perceived content", and is collecting signatures for a petition.

Staff have said they will review the selection process, but the "question of putting it back is premature at this point," according to Schweinsberg. While a Wisconsin library has also kept Fifty Shades off its shelves – "We don't collect erotica," said the library director of Fond du Lac's public branch – the rest of America's libraries are making the most of the title's immense popularity. Its US publisher Vintage told the New York Times that there are "an extraordinary number of holds" on the book – at some branches, more than 1,000 people are waiting their turn to take it out.

 

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