Here's to Banned Books Week 2013!
Audience at Paradise Banned: Poetry Readings From Banned Books which was hosted by Housing Works Bookstore and Cafe)
Bookstores proved again this year that celebrating Banned
Books Week (BBW) is both fun and good for business. ABFFE joined
Manhattan's Housing Works Bookstore and the PEN American Center to present Paradise Banned: Poetry Readings from Banned Books.
Over 100 New Yorkers attended, hippies and hipsters alike, and enjoyed
banned poems read by contemporary poets, including Timothy Donnelly and
Aimee Herman. Housing Works also created a beautiful window display that featured banned chapbooks as well as perennial BBW classics such as Fahrenheit 451.
"I think that it's very important that independent bookstores celebrate
Banned Books Week, just because of that word 'independent,' " Amanda
Bullock, Housing Works director of public programming, explained. "We're
in that unique position to shed light on things like this, and have
done it throughout history." Marshall Reese filmed the event and you can see the videos here.
booksellers reported lively discussions with their customers about
censorship and First Amendment issues. Using promotional material from a
BBW kit created by ABFFE and distributed by Ingram Content Group,
bookstores mounted displays of books that led customers to ask why some
of their favorites had banned or challenged.
Rachel Ormiston from Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena
said that sales have benefited from these discussions with several
banned titles briefly appearing on the store's bestsellers list. BBW
coincided with the opening of Northshire Bookstore's
new store in Saratoga Springs, New York. Northshire's Tara Swahlan said
the store's large display prompted one woman to buy several children's
books with the intention of sending them to a library or school where
they had been banned.
several years the MLRC Institute has arranged for media lawyers to
speak on a variety of free speech issues in bookstores. In September
and October MLRC speakers appeared at Vroman's, Last Bookstore in Los Angeles, Joseph Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati,57th Street Books in Chicago, Borderland Books in San Francisco and Porter Square Books in Cambridge, MA. ABFFE's
Chris Finan discussed efforts to censor YA books during a speech
sponsored by the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library at the Indianapolis
Northshire Bookstore's display of banned titles for Banned Books Week 2013 (left) and the Strand Book Store's display (right).
ABFFE's Children's Book art AUction IS LIVE!
Come one and come all! The
Holiday Children’s Book Art Auction, which supports the free speech rights of
kids, features many original works and high-quality prints by some of the
leading artists and illustrators working in the book industry today, including
Eric Carle, Chris Raschka, Judy Schachner, Bob Staake, Tom Lichtenheld, and
77 pieces of art will be added to eBay throughout the day.
If anyone would like to promote the auction on their website, they can use the web badge here that has a link to our eBay page.
ABFFE Defends Author Appearances for Book
The American Booksellers Foundation
for Free Expression recently sent out a press release and a letter defending bookstores that have scheduled appearances by
Stephen Jimenez, author of The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths About the Murder
of Matthew Shepard. Just published
by Steerforth Press, the book has been criticized for questioning aspects of a
case that came to symbolize the problem of crimes that target gay men and
One critic, Jamie McGonnigal, the author of the TalkAboutEquality.com blog, wants the 23 bookstores that have scheduled events
with Jimenez to cancel them. He has
urged supporters to call the bookstores and has also created a petition on Change.org
that is addressed to booksellers.In a letter sent to McGonnigal today,
ABFFE President Chris Finan says that the protest "demonstrates a poor
understanding of bookselling and has the potential to stifle discussion of a
significant historical event.” Author
events are intended to promote debate by giving customers the opportunity to
hear and question speakers. "We believe
that you have a right to your opinion,” the letter concludes. "But the appropriate response to Mr.
Jimenez’s book is to refute
his argument, not to deny him the opportunity to speak in bookstores.” A
copy of the letter is available here.
bookstore has cancelled an event with Jimenez.
Gaiman's Neverwhere Returns to Alamogordo Classrooms
Kids’ Right to Read Project (KRRP) commended the Alamogordo School District in New Mexico for its decision to retain the use of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere
in high school classrooms.
had been working with district staff and community members since early October,
when it became publicly known that a parent objected to the book. The project
also sent a
the district advocating that it retain the book.
Neil Gaiman talked with the Comic Book Legal Defense League about the controversy saying:
"I’m obviously disappointed that the parent in question
didn’t talk to the teacher or accept the teacher’s offer of an alternative book
for her daughter, and has instead worked to stop anyone else’s children reading
a book that’s been in the school system successfully for almost a decade… but
mostly I feel sorry for anyone excited enough by the banning to go to
Neverwhere in search of "R-Rated” action."