2024 Reading Challenge

2024 Reading Challenge
Tina has read 0 books toward her goal of 39 books.

Monday, August 10, 2009


One of the things that kind of amazed me when I had my bookstore were the amount of comments and opinions my clients had about which books I should be carrying and which ones I should not.

I also never knew, until recently, that there was a law in my town that said that as a merchant selling visual merchandise, I had to make sure to keep anything that would be considered "offensive" on the very top shelves, to ensure that no children under the legal age of 18 had access to them.

Actually, my first comment to this is "duh!" as if I would ever put sensitive books in the front window for anyone to see. However, here is the question - a beautiful book of nude photography - is this considered "offensive???". In my opinion, no, but I do know that at the time I had the store, I decided to put it on the very top shelf of the "art" section regardless and I have always thought about this decision.

The other issue that I often had to confront were issues such as books on abortion. Montreal had one of the biggest abortion issues in the 90's (I think) where a wowan got pregnant from an abusive man and decided to end her pregnancy, he went to court to stop her and won - so she went to the US to get the abortion and then wrote a book about it. Someone brought the book in and I bought it and put it on my nonfiction shelf - needless to say, I got tons and tons of comments (both pro and con) about my decision about selling this one. For the record, this was not an issue for me as I am definitely pro choice - however, I wonder what I would have done had I been anti-abortion?

Its a difficult call - the same can be said about books on hunting (which I am vehemently against - yet, I still sold them, same thing with true crime books and even thrillers which carry a very strong message of violence. I also had some LDS (Mormons) who were upset with me because I was selling a copy of their bible (sorry, I am not sure what they call their book).

The one thing that I did make a decision about was that I would not sell porn of any type - whether it be through books, magazines or movies, but here again, I had to rely on my own view of pornography - which I believe abuses women - so I did not make the decision based on any religious or scandalized view of the subject matter, but rather as a representative of women.

As a bookseller, its hard to put your own personal views aside when selling books - and it has nothing to do with making $$$$ but rather - about not making book banning decisions for other people.
When I read anything about book banning, I want to scream, so really, I don't have the right to do it either.

What do you think?


Meghan said...

That does sound like a challenging decision. I think that when you choose stock in a bookstore (or probably any store) your personal prejudices and preferences are always going to come out. It doesn't really mean you've banned them, though, because they can still buy books online if they can't find them in a bookstore.

Serena said...

Wow, this must have been challenging.

Donna said...

Interesting post, Tina. I agree though that just because you chose not to sell something does not mean you advocated book banning. If you were uncomfortable with selling something then you shouldn't have had to (and I'm sure didn't) because it was your store and you were only representing yourself. If you were on a library's board and refused to allow a book to be available to borrowers - well, that's different, I think.

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