Library officials are trying to steer impatient “Fifty Shades” borrowers toward other titles while they wait. (Associated Press)


The D.C. Public Library reports Monday that at least 400 more than 800 library members are waiting to check out a copy of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the first book in E.L. James’s blockbuster erotic trilogy.

Don’t know what “Fifty Shades” is all about? Read up.

Library spokesperson George Williams said the book’s “hold ratio” of about three holds per copy isn’t necessarily unheard of for a best seller.

But given the long wait for a peek at one of 110 copies, the library system is pointing curious readers to a half-dozen other tomes, such as Michel Faber’s “The Crimson Petal and the White” — a “story about Sugar, a young Victorian girl struggling to improve her social standing,” who “meets an unbelievable and unforgettable cast of characters” while spending her days “at Mrs. Castaway’s brothel.”

Kindle users or other library cardholders who don’t mind reading it electronically can also check out one of 19 copies of the e-book version, which might be preferable for a whole lot of reasons. But again there’s a wait-list for the first book — over 500 as of Monday afternoon.

Libraries across the country have been dealing with the novel’s popularity in different ways. As The New York Times reported in May, some — like D.C. — have ordered dozens of copies. Other systems have refused to stock the title.

UPDATE, 4:20 P.M.: Williams has provided an up-to-the-minute accounting of “Fifty Shades” supply and demand:

“Fifty Shades of Grey” — 341 holds for 110 print copies; 515 holds for 40 eBook licenses.

“Fifty Shades Darker” — 54 holds for 49 print copies; 157 holds for 20 eBook licenses.

“Fifty Shades Freed” — 26 holds for 49 print copies; 118 holds for 20 eBook licenses.