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Do you ever check the night table drawer in hotel rooms? You should start, because you might not find the standard Gideon Bible in there. In one British hotel, it’s been replaced with the hit erotica novel, 50 Shades of Grey.
Hotelier Jonathan Denby decided to replace the Gideon Bibles in each of the 40 rooms at the Damson Dene Hotel in the Lake District of England. Though he has never read the book, he believes that Damson Dene guests are looking for something more along the lines of the erotic novel than the Bible. His reason for not reading it is that he isn’t in the book’s target audience, but he says those who are and who have read the book love it, describing it as “a ripping good yarn.”
He explained the decision in his blog, The Slow Life: “Tonight, millions of women will be curling up in bed with a good book and you can bet your life it won’t be the Bible. More likely than not it will be 50 Shades of Grey … This made me wonder about the sense of providing a book, the Gideon Bible which no-one reads and many dislike, in the bedside cabinet of our hotel bedrooms, instead of a book which everyone wants to read like 50 Shades of Grey.”
This would be easier to buy if everyone really did want to read it, but clearly the hotelier doesn’t want to read it himself. Not everyone staying in the hotel is in the target audience, there are family rooms included in the count of 40 rooms that now stock 50 Shades in the drawers. The naughty novel isn’t for the under-18 set.
Denby goes on to say, “In this secular age it seems distinctly odd that anyone would expect to find a religious book in a hotel bedroom.” While he raises a point, it would also be odd for anyone to expect to find erotic fiction in a hotel bedroom. Sure, you can order something along the same lines from the pay-per-view on television, but to leave it out where a curious child may find it is another story. Why not choose another bestseller with a PG rating?
The Damson Dene isn’t the first hotel to replace the Bible. Hotel Indigo in Newcastle, England, was chosen to test out a program with InterContinental Hotels that places a Kindle in each room in place of the holy book. Guests can still read scripture on the device, but they can also choose to purchase any other book available in the Amazon Kindle Store. The books are only good for the length of the stay; the Kindles are wiped clean between guests. This makes a lot more sense for a hotel trying to modernize its literature and give their guests a secular option – lots of options, in fact.
Choosing 50 Shades tells us one thing: this hotelier wants to direct some of the buzz about the book towards his hotel. One local vicar called the change a “gimmick” and ABC News points out that Damson Dene has been on The Hotel, a British reality show. Appearances on reality television are often pleas for attention, and this literature choice certainly has brought attention to the lakeside hotel.
So what happens if you really want to read the Bible at Damson Dene? If you left your own at home, there are still a few extra copies available at the reception desk.