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50 SHADES PHENOMENON: Flying Off Shelves

A book topping the bestseller list is too sexually explicit for some readers.  Libraries in Florida, Georgia and Wisconsin have banned Fifty Shades of Grey from the shelves.

The book is available to Iowa readers, but they’re waiting weeks to check out a copy.

“I just thought it was a romance story and when you look at the cover, it doesn’t look like that.  You wouldn’t think that,” says Amber Johnson.

 About 100 pages in, readers realize you can`t judge this book by its cover.  Fifty Shades of Grey isn`t your typical romance.  It`s an erotic romance with an emphasis on erotic.

“I could feel myself blushing.  I was like, ‘Oh my gosh’, I’ve never read anything like that before,” says Brittany Strickland.

The books have seduced readers of all ages.

“It’s something different and people want to find out about a life unlike their own and fantasize about being someone else,” says Johnson.

More than the steamy sex scenes, readers say the connection between the main characters Christian Grey and Ana Steele drew them in.

“I didn’t want to put it down.  There were some nights where I would stay up until 3:30 in the morning reading it,” says Kaly Hedman.

“I’ve heard it described as mommy porn, erotica,” says Alice Meyer of Beaverdale Books.

The Fifty Shades trilogy hit her shelves last month and almost overnight became one of her best sellers.  Meyer hasn`t yet given into the hype.

“I’m not sure if I will sit down and read the whole book or not.  Maybe just ready enough so I can talk about it,” she says.

At the Des Moines Public Library, there`s a long wait to get a check out the book.  Today, 279 readers are on a list to get one of the library’s 30 copies.

“I would say the love story is probably not there,” says Teresa Downing-Matibag, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Iowa State University.

She touches on the BDSM or bondage and sadomasochism culture in her Intimate Relationships class.

“I think we are treading on I would say dangerous ground here.  Just because something is enjoyable doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do,” says Downing-Matibag.

What concerns her most is the growing acceptance of violence towards women.

“Couples engaging deeply in the BDSM community is another thing altogether because I don’t think that the values which are promoted in this community are necessary conducive to healthy relationships or families,” says Downing-Matibag.

Just like the name of the book, the reviews aren’t black and white either.

“I don’t see any harm in reading them,” says Strickland.

“I think it’s great marketing.  I don’t think it’s great writing,” says Johnson.

Fifty Shades of Grey is part of a trilogy by EL James.  The books were first published in Australia before being released in the US.  We checked with several Iowa libraries and so far, they haven’t had any complaints about the book or heard any talk of trying to ban it from the shelves.

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