(Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Dave Bullock)
Best-selling novel "Fifty Shades of Grey" by British author E.L. James may be outpacing the Bible in popularity, as one British hotel manager has decided to chuck Gideon bibles traditionally stocked in guest rooms for copies of the racy novel.
Wayne Bartholomew, General Manager of Damson Dene Hotel in Cumbria, Northwest England, says he got the idea to swap out copies of the holy book for the otherwise unholy one after a discussion with fans on Facebook.
James' "Fifty Shades Grey" 2011 novel is the first in an erotic trilogy that explores the sexual relationship involving bondage and sadism between college student Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey, described as "a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control." The series, wildly popular among many women, has sold more than 20 million copies and promises to "obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever."
"Fifty Shades of Grey is all that people are talking about at the moment, but I know that some are too shy to buy it for themselves. I thought it would be a special treat for our guests to find it in their bedside cabinet and that includes the men. They are as desperate to get their hands on a copy as are the women," Bartholomew, reportedly a choir member at his local church, told the News & Star publication.
The Daily Mail claimed in a report that there was "outrage" over Bartholomew's decision in relegating copies of the Bible to the front desk, but did not provide any specific comments to that effect.
However, some of the more than 3,200 followers on the Damson Dene Hotel's official Facebook page expressed disagreement with the change.
"Erm, are you saying in times of desperation you should read porn???? This country is forgetting it's [sic] roots enough without encouragement -- many people get comfort and guidance from the Bible, would be foolish to remove it for a book that provides a small amount of pleasure," wrote Amanda Keable.
Another commenter saw no problem with keeping copies of both the Gideon Bible and "Fifty Shades of Grey" in hotel rooms.
"I think that the Bible is a much better read than 50 Shades. I would happily read the Bible over and over again but find 50 Shades a struggle. Why don't you have both and a car manual too so everyone is happy," suggested Sian Hunter.
Bartholomew has acknowledged the popularity of the Bible, said to be the top best-selling book of all time, and insisted that the Holy Writ does share some similarities with its new replacement.
"The Gideon Bible is also full of references to sex and violence although it's written using more formal language so [King] James' book is easier to read," he said.
Bartholomew's apparent marketing ploy has been so well received that he is now offering guests who book a room by a certain time complimentary copies of "Fifty Shades of Grey." The general manager, who said the book-swap will occur this weekend in select rooms, is also popular for his starring role on Channel 4's "The Hotel" documentary.
James' novels, compared to the "Twilight" series for their captivating nature, have been dubbed "mommy porn" because much of the fan base appear to be mothers, although teens and men have been reported to be among the author's readers.
The series has been criticized by some for its violence and glorification of sex. Several Christian female bloggers have warned against picking up the "Fifty Shades" books, saying reading them borders on adultery and can lead to unhealthy attitudes toward women.