Fifty Shades of Special Orders

Josie Leavitt - March 14, 2012

It started happening Sunday afternoon. We were getting calls from women wondering if we were carrying the book Fifty Shades of Grey. I’m not sure how many women read the New York Times article about the supposedly erotic novel that’s sweeping the nation. I was thankful for that article, because I at least knew what folks were talking about. What they wanted to know was: when was I getting the book? Well, of course right now the book ┬áis impossible to get. Random House bought the trilogy for a whopping seven-figure deal. That amount alone tells me this book is going to fly off the shelf, because of the marketing money they’ll put towards it. It’s not coming out until April 3rd, and people are counting the days.
But then I started to think about the book and the nature of living in a small town. Would folks feel comfortable coming to our small, very personal bookstore and getting a sexually explicit book from us? Judging by the special orders we’ve taken in the last three days, I’d have to say yes. Of course we are talking it up because there hasn’t been the kind of book before: a book that has been dubbed “mommy porn” and that has entered the mainstream with such fanfare. We certainly aren’t going to judge any customer for wanting the book. The great thing is the book doesn’t have a bare chested man on the cover. It’s just a tie. So, it doesn’t look like “that kind of book.” The buzz is fantastic, and there is an almost triumphant sense that it’s about time for this kind of book to be readily available for women to read. Men who want erotica have things to read in magazines that are available everywhere. Women who want to read erotica have to search a little harder. To have an erotic book be at the local bookstore, one that doesn’t generally sell erotica, could be a very liberating experience.
We have already ordered 15 copies of each of the trilogy, and I know that’s not going to be enough. It’s been really fun to talk about the book with customers who’ve heard about it. The only thing that’s difficult for us is we haven’t read the book yet, but all of us at the store have vowed to “take one for the team” and read it so we can more knowledgeably talk about it with our customers.
One thing that I know is going to be loads of fun with this book is the array of mangled titles and descriptions we’ll see. I can hear them now: Fifty Colors of Grey, Five Grey Ties, Shades of Something, The Tie Book, You know, that book, etc.
I cannot wait.

4 thoughts on “Fifty Shades of Special Orders

  1. Carrie

    This series has to be the best series I have ever read. It’s not JUST Mommy porn, there is a real story to be discovered. It’s more than sex. There is love, self-discovery, pain, trust, loyalty and forgiveness in this story. It’s a very raw, emotional read and I think small, hole in the wall books stores AND larger chains would be doing a huge disservice by NOT stocking this series on their shelves. Kudos to the Author, E.L. James for bringing this story to us.

  2. Kitti

    And after the customers are done mangling it, along will come the copycats! They’ll probably use every mangling you’ve written here, plus some.

  3. SJ

    Maybe the next new trend – it’ll be interesting to watch.
    Maybe this time the morning shows will get their act together (referencing a truly awful Today show spot a few weeks ago that featured criticism from a “book club,” where one of the members admitted to not reading a book in something like 8 years. And Dr. Drew was the “expert” who hadn’t read the book but could of course talk on the validity of women’s sexual fantasies. WHAT A JOKE.)
    If I hear “mommy porn” thrown around in the media over this any more than I have, I’m going to lose it. What an offensive sexist label to trivialize women’s sexuality.

  4. Jennifer

    So far we’ve bought 44 copies of the first book for my county library system and have, as of now, 225 people on the waiting list. (PW alerted me to this title before it became hot here – thanks, gang! – so we at least had some copies in before demand went through the roof.) Two weeks ago we had 75 people waiting. We have book groups reading it. Patrons are excited about the series and eager to get it after all the publicity, but at the moment the libraries that did buy it by early January are pretty much the only source for print if they want it NOW. I expect people to drop off our wait list when April arrives and you have it on your shelves.
    BTW, we noticed yesterday we have six holds in our ebook collection for Jasper Fforde’s Shades of Grey, which hasn’t circulated much in hard copy since 2009…


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