Books, Collection Development

Between 50 Million Shades of Gray

I’ve been watching with amusement the many e-list postings about the “controversial” trilogy, 50 Shades of Gray – does this fall within the library’s collection development plan? where do we shelve it? it’s (*gasp*) NSFW! etc..

However, as a reader of both adult and young adult books, another thought came to me: what do we do about the title and potential for confusion? After all, we know that patrons frequently mangle titles (one stellar example? a [probably apocryphal] student asking for “oranges and peaches”, aka “Origins of the Species”). Just go to Amazon, IndieBound, Powell’s or Barnes and Noble’s websites and look for “shades of gray” (or “shades of grey” if you prefer that color).

Amazing, right? You don’t get that number of hits from “Hunger Games”.

If I were in a public library, I’d have

  • Sepetys’ Between Shades of Gray (2012 William C. Morris YA Debut Award Finalist and YALSA Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults 2012, among many other honors)
  • Kadohata’s A Million Shades of Gray (the author has won Newbery honors and this book was named one of the CCBC Choices)
  • Fforde’s Shades of Grey (Fforde has a rather large readership for his Tuesday Next and Nursery Crimes series)

I might still have Reeder’s Shades of Gray, depending on how it’s still circulating. I might also have Norman’s Shades of Gray, depending on how big circulation of science fiction is at my library.

And now there’s the 50 Shades of Gray trilogy.  Collection development parameters aside, can you imagine the fuss if a mother, looking for one of the YA Shades accidentally borrows the adult version?  Or if a child, not realizing that there are so many titles – or even accidentally – puts the “wrong” one on hold (or worse, downloads it to their e-reader)?

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