FLINT TWP. — Historically, June-August are the busiest months for the Genesee District Library with more families using the library while school is out. But summer reading fervor has cranked up this year because of the popularity of a book that isn’t attributed to GDL’s traditional Summer Reading Program.
“Fifty Shades of Grey,” is one of three erotic novels in a trilogy written by British author E.L. James and so far the hottest read of summer by a wide margin. Criticized by some as poorly written and obscene, James’ steamy novels are nevertheless garnering broad attention including the movie rights being recently acquired.
The books chronicle the explicit love affair between a billionaire businessman named Christian Grey and a 21-year-old college student Anastasia Steele.
GDL has never seen a response like this to any book of this genre, according to Trenton M. Smiley, GDL’s Community Relations Officer.
Genesee County readers are not alone in their interest.
Publisher’s Weekly has hailed “Grey” as the best-selling book of the year outselling its closest competitor by more than one million copies, based on data from Neilsen’s Bookscan which tracks sales.
“Grey” has held the
No. 1 spot on the New
York Times bestseller list for 17 weeks. And for the last few weeks, the sequels have held the No. 2 and No. 3 spots while the boxed set was at NO. 7.
GDL, as of mid-June,
“Grey” had the most holds (340) of any book people are lined up to read. The closest second was James Patterson’s “11th Hour” with 295 holds, followed by Nora Roberts’ “The Witness”, 251 holds; David Baldacci’s ”The Innocent,” 223 holds; and “Calico Joe” by John Grisham, 206 holds, to round out the Top 5 most in-demand books at the GDL.
It is not unusual for a book to reach the 300-holds level but what is unusual is the growing demand for ebooks, according to Darwin McGuire, GDL Technical Services Manager, who tracks book reading data.
James’ books also fill the top three spots in GDL’s downloadable books category followed by Janet Evanovich’s romantic suspense novel “Explosive Eighteen,” in the fourth spot and “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett, rounding out the Top 5.
GDL is circulating 57 print copies of “Fifty Shades of Grey” plus two audio books on CD. “Fifty Shades Darker,’’ the second book in the trilogy has 13 print copies and two audio books in circulation with a waiting list of 71 holds. Also all 12 print copies are circulating of “Fifty Shades Freed,’’ the third novel, plus two audio books on CD and 86 holds.
Comparatively, GDL has 52 print copies, 1 audio book and 1 downloadable audio book of Patterson’s “11th Hour;” and 64 print copies and 2 audio books on CD of “The Witness;” 54 print copies, one audio book on CD and one downloadable audio book of “The Innocent;” and 54 print copies , one audio book on CD, one downloadable audio book and six ebooks of “Calico Joe.”
“We are constantly adjusting the number of copies in the collection to meet public demand,’’ McGuire said, noting that GDL tries to keep a hold-to-copies ratio of 5 to 1 for printed books.
For the Fifty Shades titles, for example, GDL continues to buy physical books and two weeks ago also purchased 13 more digital copies of “Grey” to meet demand.
The holds list for “Grey” is stabilizing but summer may be over before patrons at the end of the waiting list get their chance.
“Grey” has been available at GDL branches since the last week of May. But because of demand, a patron requesting it today might have a ten to 12 week wait, McGuire said.