Fifty Shades of Grey

More than 1,000 county residents on the Baltimore County Public Library's waiting list to borrow the controversial hit book "Fifty Shades of Grey" and its two sequels. Neighboring Harford County's library system is not carrying the book due to its content. (May 29, 2012)

While Harford County residents can't get a copy of the best-seller "Fifty Shades of Grey" by E. L. James because their public library won't carry it, more than 1,000 Baltimore County residents are in the same boat because all 396 copies of the sexually-themed book in their library system owns are loaned out.

There are 1,122 "holds" for the book according to Jamie Watson, the collection development coordinator for the Baltimore County Library.

"That's quite high," said Watson, estimating the total was among the highest she has seen in her two years with the county system.

The book about a torrid affair between a literature student and a man she hopes to interview with "singular erotic tastes," according to a description of the book on Amazon.com, is the first of a trilogy that is related to "Fifty Shades Darker" and "Fifty Shades Freed."


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In order, the trilogy occupies the top three spots on the New York Times Best Seller List.

Baltimore County purchased its first four copies of "Grey" in February, 2012, Watson said, when it was a self-published title on Amazon.com.

That initial purchase was so low because Amazon limits purchases to no more than four copies, she said.

"We got 'holds' immediately, so we bought four more," she said.

"Once the holds get to a certain number, we'll buy additional copies as demand warrants," Watson said.

"We don't like to have more than three holds for each copy," she said.

After Random House bought the rights to the book, Baltimore County was able to buy 25 more copies in March for its 18 branches.

"In April, we bought boatloads, just to keep on top of the holds," she said, referring to Baltimore County's purchase of more than 250 additional copies to meet residents' demands.

Baltimore County just received 100 more copies in its latest order, she said.

"If it's something customers want or request, we want to provide that for the customer," she said.

She said she has not heard of any negative comments from patrons regarding the book's presence in the system.

"There are always discussions about what we want to purchase," she said. "We decide, based on our selection policy and what the customer wants."

The library's selection policy takes into account factors such as published reviews, public demand and reputation of the author, she said.