IT has taken a caning from the literary critics but library users in Tiverton can't get enough of racy bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey it would seem.
E L James' work of erotic fiction was borrowed more than 500 times from Devon libraries last year.
But according to figures released last week, one library in the county lent the book out more times than anywhere else – Tiverton.
Why is the 2011 book so popular among Mid Devon library-goers? Is bondage all they talk about in Bolham? Or are we just too tight to buy our own copies of the sexually explicit yarn? The Gazette wanted to find out.
Senior library supervisor Wenny Humble said she had not been surprised by the book's popularity in Tiverton, but had not realised it was bigger here than elsewhere.
She said: "We knew it was very popular here. A lot of people came in asking about the book, as well as people who, when returning it, said they had really enjoyed it."
"Before Christmas we set up a display to say: 'If you liked Fifty Shades of Grey, you might like this' where we showcased books in a similar vein."
She said all types of people had been reserving the book.
"Initially, we thought it was mainly woman in their 20s and 30s who were taking it out, but as word of mouth spread about the book, lots of people came in wanting to know more about it."
Not bad going for the first of a trilogy that had initially struck Wenny as pretty unspectacular.
She said: "I remember when I first saw the book with its unappealing sounding title and a cover that looked rather boring, but pretty soon everyone seemed to be talking about it."
She said it was hard to analyse the book's success.
"My theory is there are two main types of readers. The last big trend in literature was what were called 'misery memoirs' recalling miserable childhoods and some readers liked reading those to feel their own lives weren't so hard, while some people liked to read about fantasy and escape from reality and Fifty Shades of Grey definitely associates more with that second category of reader."
There are 84 copies of the book in circulation in Devon libraries with around half a dozen of those copies residing – briefly – on shelves in Tiverton, including one version in large print.