Are banned books a sales opportunity or political risk for Barnes & Noble?
Barnes & Noble has added a page on its website and small sections to some stores featuring “Banned And Challenged Books,” or books that have faced censorship.
On its banned books page, Barnes & Noble noted that “Maus,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel about the Holocaust, as well as world-wide bestsellers like Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” and the “Harry Potter” series, have recently been challenged and restricted.
The retailer explains that literary works are usually banned on “moral, religious or political grounds.”
“They were believed to be obscene or too controversial to be read by society,” Barnes & Noble explained. “Books that explore race, sexuality and new concepts and ideas are still often prohibited by certain communities, although they can easily be purchased in most bookstores.”
Disputes over removing books from school libraries and curriculum have a long history in the U.S. Calls for book bans from state elected officials or parents have surged in recent years, driven by conservatives and often tied to themes around the nation’s racial history and gender identity.
Barnes & Noble’s banned book list features many of these books, including “The 1619 Project” by Nikole Hannah-Jones, along with books banned recently as a result of complaints from liberal voices, including “Hop on Pop” by Dr. Seuss and Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”.
The nearly 200 books featured also include classics, such as “1984” by George Orwell, “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee and “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury.
The site includes a number of articles, including ones titled, “7 Banned Books That Should Be Required Reading” and “11 Books That Were Banned for Completely Ridiculous Reasons,” that offer insights behind the censorship.
Holly Noble, a manager at the Barnes & Noble in Erie, PA, said her store’s banned books tables have been well received.
“We have all walks of life in our country, and we have all walks of life in our store,” she told YourErie.com. “This starts conversations as to why things have been banned in the past, and it gets people thinking about why these books are being banned now.”
- Banned Books – Barnes & Noble
- ‘Maus’ Tops Amazon Bestseller List After Tennessee School Board Pulls Graphic Novel – The Wall Street Journal
- Banned books bannered at local Barnes & Noble – YourErie
- Big majorities reject book bans – CBS News
- This wave of book bans is different from earlier ones – The Washington Post
- Unions, States and Parents Fight Over New Laws on History Lessons, Books – Wall Street Journal
- Black Authors Are Being Pulled From School Libraries Over Critical Race Theory Fears – Newsweek
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think of Barnes & Noble’s move to market and merchandise books that are facing or have faced censorship? Do you see the appeal offsetting any political backlash?