WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. - Porn sells. But free porn — particularly when it’s the number one selling paperback book on the New York Times best-seller list — might cost you some time.
Westchester County readers are clamoring to get their hands on “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the 2011 blockbuster work of erotic fiction by English author E.L. James. Although the book has not been a darling of critics, “Fifty Shades of Grey’s” mass appeal has been likened to that of the popular “Twilight” series. Minus the teenaged vampires, that is, and with decidedly more adult content.
County libraries are feeling the “Grey” heat and are having trouble keeping the book on their shelves. The entire Westchester County Library system shows 1,119 “holds” of copies of the book. In fact, there are only three library copies available to readers in the entire county (in Bedford, Harrison and Pelham).
According to Martha Alcott, assistant director/head of reference at the Chappaqua Library, demand is high but borrowers are trying to keep a low profile. "Some ask for it in a way they'd ask for a pregnancy test kit or condoms in a drugstore," she said. "They'll ask for a couple of innocuous sounding titles first. Then, 'Oh, by the way, do you have something called, um, "Fifty Shades of Grey?'"
The plot – a beautiful young college student becomes enamored of an attractive, powerful rich man whose sexual proclivity might be described as “kinky” – is secondary. Even though in publishing parlance the book falls under the broad category known as “romance,” the book is being talked – and blogged and tweeted -- about for its graphic erotic content.
If interested readers are disinclined to wait for library books to become available, the author, E. L. James, will be signing copies of “Fifty Shades of Grey” at the Willow Ridge country club in Harrison, Friday, May 11 from 1 to 3 p.m. Tickets to the event are $85.
Porn does, in fact, sell. But patience might be a more virtuous option.