The Shades of Night Were Falling Fast

Too late now, of course. If only we’d known, the Newberry would have made so many millions it could pension off its bloggers. And it was so simple: only the proper timing was lacking.

We had this great Quasquicentennial Exhibit, right? And we have this great book (available wherever great books are sold) all about it, called “The Newberry 125”. It’s been selling pretty well, though it hasn’t had to go into a second printing yet.

But if we had just thought to call it “The Newberry 125 Shades of Grey”!

Whatever you say about the books, the title has taken the country by storm. The Chicago History Museum is featuring a history of Chicago music called “Fifty Shades of the Blues”. A local grocery establishment is advertising “Fifty Shades of Grain”. An author given to blithe poetry has suggested a cookbook called “Fifty Shades of Gravy”. Is it a coincidence, this CD of Irish music called “Forty Shades of Green”? (And what happened to the other ten shades?)

The merchandising is impressive, but will it leak to other writers now? Will I one day get to see Fifty Shades of Madison County? Fifty Shades of Effective People? Fifty Shades of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood? Is LOLCats arguing with Stuff On My Cat about who gets to use “Fifty Shades of Grey Kitties”? Will we see a reissue of a great reference book retitled “Fifty Shades of Gray’s Anatomy”? (Or will the television series do that first?)

I’m trying to resist working this into the 2013 Book Fair, but it’s hard to argue with success. To quote Minnie Pearl, as always, “I don’t want to put a stop to it; I wanna get IN on it!” Would the Literature section, which sells at least 90% of its books every year, sell out completely if we sold out and renamed it “Fifty Shades of Great”? Could the Cookbook section become even more popular as “Fifty Shades of Grater”? A commentator from out of state suggested we change the Chicago section into “Fifty Shades of Graft”. He’s getting old and cranky; he further suggested we make the section on modern music “Fifty Shades of Grunt”.

The Political Science titles I’ve seen coming in so far could be lumped under “Fifty Shades of Gripe”. The section in Nature dedicated to animal books could become “Fifty Shades of Graze”. The Cemetery Lady’s books could be “Fifty Shades of Grave” and….

What’s that? Where are we going to put the book itself and its sequels? I have to consider that, since it looks as if we may well get about fifty copies. Maybe it’ll be in Computers, as a great Online Bestseller. Maybe it would feel at home in How To, but I’d have to pick whether it belongs in the Hands or Head section. How about Sports? Or Games?

But there’s a dramatic shade of red that goes well with grey, and it might be interesting just to set up a few bookcases in the lobby and intershelve them with all those copies of The Da Vinci Code. It’ll be the perfect backdrop for this display I’m planning when we get underwriting from The Sunglass Hut. I can see it now: Fifty Shades of Shades.

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