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Fifty Shades Of Grey: Racy novel proving too hot for some Northern Ireland readers

By Linda Stewart

It's the erotic publishing phenomenon that's taken the world by storm -- and it seems Northern Ireland's libraries are struggling to keep abreast.

Last night the queue to read Fifty Shades Of Grey stood at an impressive 330 across the province, and Libraries NI was preparing to order more copies to keep up with the feverish demand.

Elsewhere, however, some libraries were finding that their customers were nonplussed by the whips-and-handcuffs bestseller. A number of customers quickly returned their copies to the library after discovering Fifty Shades Of Grey was not exactly the gently aphrodisiac novel they had anticipated.

A Libraries NI spokesperson confirmed it is buying in extra copies to cope with demand for EL James' first book in her 'mummy porn' trilogy which also includes Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed.

"Libraries NI has purchased 55 copies of Fifty Shades Of Grey to cope with a high level of requests for this book in libraries across Northern Ireland and we will be purchasing additional copies to meet this continuing demand."

Librarians told the Belfast Telegraph that by last night the waiting list had surged to 330 across Northern Ireland.

Mark Knowles, branch manager at Shankill Road library in Belfast, said it seems to be "the thing at the moment".

"There are 330 reservations across Northern Ireland -- I've heard a lot of people talking about it at the minute," he said. "One of our borrowers said she would definitely not read it as it was lewd and disgusting, but there have been plenty of requests."

All the demand has come from women, with no Shankill men asking for copies just yet, he said.

"We haven't had any boldness that way. They are all too timid to come and ask for it; it is women that have an interest," he said.

Staff at Waterside Library in Londonderry said they can't get hold of copies, while Enniskillen librarians say they have had a lot of reservations. Another librarian in the west of the province said there was a lot of hype about the novel which is reported to have sparked an explosion in the sale of the sex toys it features.

"People are coming in and asking for it and some of them are not really aware of what they are asking for," she said.

"There are people who you wouldn't really expect to be reading that type of stuff. The frontline staff were having a bit of a giggle about it. It's definitely taken the place by storm. They are expecting a baby boom after it, someone was saying."

Another said customers had been caught out by the steamy content of the book.

"Everybody's talking about it, even people who don't read," he said. "I've heard of another library where three people have returned it, saying it was nothing but pornography."

British author EL James, a previously unknown writer, has spoken of her "stunned" reaction to the response to the word-of-mouth hit that has got women talking about its raunchy content.

The London television executive is married to Newry screenwriter Niall Leonard, who she said inspired some of the sex scenes in the books.

Fifty Shades Of Grey began as an ebook inspired by the Twilight series and initially ran on a small print. Hollywood has plans to adapt the story into a movie.


Fifty Shades of Grey is the first novel in a trilogy by EL James which follows the romance and sexual adventures of handsome millionaire businessman Christian Grey and innocent student Anastasia Steele. It has become a publishing phenomenon -- selling 2.3m copies in the UK alone, topping the New York Times best sellers list and setting the record as the fastest-selling paperback of all time, surpassing the Harry Potter series.

Dubbed 'mummy porn', it has captured the imagination of millions of women around the world with its steamy bondage scenes. Author James says, however, that women have responded so strongly because it fundamentally is a love story.

Belfast Telegraph


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