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E.L. James’ “50 Shades of Grey” reached number one on both USA Today and the New York Times’ bestseller lists. The book sold over 3 million copies in less than a month. The author, astounded at her success, has received much praise for her book from adoring fans. The book’s erotic content has also sparked some opposition, so much so that several libraries in Georgia, Florida, and Wisconsin banned the book from their shelves.
As book one in the Fifty Shades Trilogy, the author describes the fictional romance of student Anastasia Steele and business success story Christian Grey. Grey, focused on an overwhelming desire to control, offers a sadistic relationship. Steele, a virgin, but passionately curious, unlocks some of her own dark desires. The novel is erotica, but it also portrays some true relationship issues.
The problem comes from people that read the book, disagree with the content, and do not want anyone else to read it either. The libraries in the three states that banned the book agreed that they listen to reader interests. Public libraries, because they are funded by taxpayer money, listen to residents who make a complaint. If the demand is high enough, they will pull the book from the shelf. Many of the complaints are filed by concerned parents, who do not want children getting their hands on what could be labeled pornography.
Other librarians, such as Kate Hall from the New Lenox Public Library in Illinois, strongly oppose taking any book from the shelf, no matter the content. So far, Hall’s library has only received requests for the book.
According to New Lenox Patch, Hall says, “People are always going to have issues with some books…. It does chill me a little bit just because it’s one person speaking out for the entire community.” One person should not be the deciding factor for a library.
Random House, the publisher of “50 Shades”, is calling the ban unconstitutional. Under the First Amendment, banning books is censorship and deprives readers of the right to choose what they want to read. According to TMZ, a representative from Random House claims that the library asserts that they “will judge what you can read.” They are taking away the book that readers want and have a right to buy.
There is no denying that this racy book is not for everyone. The debate is bound to continue as popularity of the book escalates and talk of a movie adaptation is well underway.