The Irish Prison Service yesterday confirmed it had bought 12 copies of the EL James novel for prisoners across the system in the past year.
The Fifty Shades series focuses on the relationship between college graduate Anastasia Steele and young business magnate Christian Grey. More than 70m copies of the raunchy read have been sold worldwide.
The spend by the Prison Service adds to EL James’s already vast coffers — Forbes estimates that the author enjoyed earnings of around $95m (€72m) between Jun 2012 and Jun 2013.
The book contains explicit erotic scenes featuring sexual practices involving bondage and sado-masochism.
However, a Freedom of Information response from the Prison Service is unable to state how popular the novel is with inmates, as its libraries do not record which books are most in demand.
The response stated: “Most libraries are run by prison inmates using paper or manual booking systems. Because of these various paper systems, it is not possible to run a report on the most popular titles loaned.”
The spend on Fifty Shades of Grey comes against the background of radical cuts to the budgets of prison libraries in the past number of years.
Records released through FoI show that the library services for the nine prisons in Dublin have been reduced by 72% over the past five years, falling from €90,000 to €25,000 in 2012.
The 2012 annual report for the Dublin prison service states that, because of this 72% reduction, “the decision was taken to no longer provide new equipment or furniture for the prison libraries but to ask individual prisons to accept this responsibility”.
The report states that library opening hours and timetabled access continued to be an issue in some prisons as libraries were open only 38% of the time across the nine jails in Dublin.
EL James earlier this week announced that Britain’s Charlie Hunnam and US actress Dakota Johnson had landed the coveted lead roles in the big screen version of Fifty Shades of Grey. (link to our story on this here please)
Hunnam, 33, is best known for his work in shows as Queer as Folk and US biker drama Sons of Anarchy.
Johnson, 23, is the daughter of Miami Vice star Don, and Melanie Griffith. She appeared in The Social Network and played the lead in the US television show Ben and Kate.