Are banned books a selling opportunity or a political risk for Barnes & Noble? – RetailWire

March 08, 2022

Barnes & Noble added a page on its website and small sections in some stores featuring “banned and disputed books” or books that have been censored.

On its banned books page, Barnes & Noble noted that “Maus,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel about the Holocaust, as well as global bestsellers like Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” and the “Harry Potter”, have recently been challenged and restricted.

The retailer explains that literary works are generally banned for “moral, religious or political reasons”.

“They were considered obscene or too controversial for society to read,” Barnes & Noble explained. “Books that explore race, sexuality, and new concepts and ideas are still often banned by some communities, although they can easily be purchased at most bookstores.”

Disputes over the removal of books from school libraries and school curricula have a long history in the United States. conservative and often related to themes around the nation’s racial history and gender identity.

Barnes & Noble’s list of banned books includes many such books, including “The 1619 Project” by Nikole Hannah-Jones, as well as books recently banned following complaints from liberal voices, including “Hop on Pop” from the Dr Seuss and Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”.

The nearly 200 books on display also include classics, such as George Orwell’s “1984”, Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” and Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451”.

The site includes a number of articles, including those titled “7 Banned Books That Should Be Required Reading” and “11 Books That Were Banned For Completely Ridiculous Reasons”, which offer insight into the censorship.

Holly Noble, manager at Barnes & Noble in Erie, PA, said its store’s banned book 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 said. “It sparks conversations about why things were banned in the past, and it gets people thinking about why these books are banned now.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think of Barnes & Noble’s decision to market and market books that have or have faced censorship? Do you see the appeal outweighing any political backlash?


“As a society, we simply need to resist this renewed urge to ban anything that challenges our worldview.”


About Nicole Harmon

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