Skip to main content

Biological Tests Show that 50 Shades is a Dirty, Dirty Book

Coming out of2028254155[1] left field, here’s another reason why ebooks are better than paper books: they’re hygienic.

A pair of Dutch university professors have just finished a new study in which they took the 10 most borrowed books in the Antwerp lending library and ran them through a battery of toxicology and bacteriology tests. The results make me want to go scrub my hands.

The professors found that all 10 books tested positive for cocaine, unfortunately in concentrations that aren’t high enough to get you high but will result in a positive result on a drug test (all the downsides but none of the fun). They also found that 2 of the books, including 50 Shades, tested positive for the herpes virus.

I know you’re saying ewww right now, but I would hold off on that emotion. This result, as gross as it may be, should come as no surprise to anyone who has had Bio 101.


Coming soon from 3M: a line of prophylactics for library books.

When I took the class years ago there was one section where we swabbed a wide variety of surfaces and grew cultures. If you had seen how many things were growing on a door handle you would probably want to douse yourself in antibacterial soap.

Herpes may be attention getting, but please note that there’s no mention of whether they found Herpes A or B (not even in the original Dutch (Flemish?) sources). For all we know someone might have a serious problem with mouth sores, not an STD.

Also, I can’t find any sign that the professors tested for other bacteria or viruses, and that makes me think that they went for this one detail just to shock us. The original source was a Dutch TV show after all, not an academic paper.

But just to be safe, I suggest that everyone start practicing safe reading. At the very least you could wear gloves and a mask when handling a library book, but I think it better to follow your mother’s maxim: "Don’t touch that. You don’t know where it’s been."

P.S. This post is brought to you by DuPont, maker of HazMat suits, and Trojan, maker of condoms.

Flanders News


Similar Articles


fjtorres November 15, 2013 um 8:13 pm

Try this:

Gary November 15, 2013 um 9:11 pm

This is hearsay. I have never had this problem myself. I don’t know anyone who has had this problem. I read about it in the newspaper.

Since I have switched to eBooks, I won’t ever have this problem.

What’s the problem? Bed bugs taking up residence in a library book in one home, and coming out again in your home when you borrow the book a week later. Yuck.


Nate Hoffelder November 18, 2013 um 4:40 pm

No, it’s not a problem. Or at least I don’t see it as a serious issue, which is why I reported it as a joke.

igorsk November 15, 2013 um 9:20 pm

FYI, Belgium is not a part of Netherlands 🙂

Nate Hoffelder November 15, 2013 um 9:39 pm

Damn. Fixed it, thanks.

Yes, the BE URL should have clued me in, but in my defense the text looked like Dutch to me.

Zetmolm November 16, 2013 um 3:53 am

Yes, it is Dutch. Half of the people in Belgium speak Dutch. (The flavor of Dutch that they use is called Flemish.)

Nate Hoffelder November 18, 2013 um 4:39 pm

This I knew, but it somehow managed to slip my mind, LOL.

New Name Same Guy November 16, 2013 um 4:22 am

LOL, Dutch = Flemish. And they probably were Dutch trying to fly under the radar. BTW rubber gloves are the most dangerous weapon in the Netherlands.

Vorsicht: Viren und Kokain auf BĂĽchern aus der Bibliothek gefunden – lieber eBooks leihen? | November 18, 2013 um 5:09 am

[…] via The Digital Reader […]

Stumbling Over Chaos :: Waiting until the last minute to try to come up with a linkity title is always a bad idea November 22, 2013 um 3:06 am

[…] It’s probably best not to read about the results of library book biological testing. […]

Mengupas Alat Book Sanitizer Usulan DPRD Jakarta | bukunya March 19, 2015 um 12:20 am

[…] dari satu pembaca buku kepada yang lain memang bukan isapan jempol belaka. Setidaknya itu yang ditemukan dua peneliti di Belgia yang menguji toksikologi dan bakteriologi terhadap sepuluh buku yang paling banyak dipinjam di […]

Write a Comment