Monday, September 23, 2019

Every bookseller, every librarian, every teacher and many individuals have had a discussion at one time or another about the appropriateness of a books content.  In the 28 years that I have been a bookseller I have had MANY of these conversations.  I have testified at state hearings regarding proposed laws that would limit our freedoms regarding free speech.   I have been asked to attend school board meetings, I have spoken in college classrooms on the subject of censorship and I have been told that "they" will protest in front of my store.
     The threat of a protest was one of the most enjoyable experiences I have had at The Bookstore.  We were setting up for a midnight release Harry Potter party.  I had 3 phone calls (before caller ID was common) warning me to be prepared for problems that evening.  I laughed and asked each of them if they would like coffee and doughnuts or if they would prefer butterbeer with Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans?  They did not find me nearly as amusing as I found myself.  FYI:  We had the street blocked in front of the store:  hosted a street dance, had broomstick races, a face painter, a station for coloring pages, had a costume parade, had the books locked in a vault guarded by the three headed dog, kids could decorate a spider cookie and at the the midnight hour Hagrid arrived on a pink scooter (we took creative license here) and delivered the first copy to the first person standing in line.  For the record we had 0 (ZERO) protestors.
     When I am asked about a book or asked to assist in the removal of a book (which always surprises me that folks think I will be willing to help promote censorship) I ask them if they have actually read the book (you would be alarmed to know how often I hear "No, But I have heard......" I tell them the following story:  A woman (a good customer) was angry that I would be selling Harry Potter books in Dillon.  She thought I was a better person than that (yes, she said that) We had the basic conversation - I am not forcing you or anyone to buy the book, I believe people have the right to choose what they read and yes I respect and honor all thoughts on the subject and if a parent has specifically asked me to lead their child to a book I do my very best to work with them on this quest.  She was getting angrier and more demanding.  I honestly thought we were alone in the store when a young man (aprox 7 maybe 8 years old)  slipped up next to her and put his hand in hers.  She and I were both startled.  He looked at her intently and then very quietly said "Excuse me, but you do realize Harry Potter isn't real, don't you?"