In applying the United Nations’ hate speech definition to suppress works of literature, the American Booksellers Association (ABA) and the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) are engaging, with considerable and unhappy irony, in a fictional narrative in which they are actively employing an objective standard for censoring books. The central fallacy here is the understanding of these professional literary organizations that the UN supports using its hate speech definition as a standard for suppressing speech, which it explicitly does not. Secondarily, their exercise of censorship is marred by the fact that the UN hate speech definition is overtly intended as a standard to be applied to direct interpersonal communication, not literature.Continue reading
Like most of my ShelfTalker colleagues, I’ve taken an extended break from blogging during the pandemic, as ever-shifting dynamics at the store pulled focus and finding a minute for reflection felt impossible. Now, a little over a month into 2022, after closing out the year with a successful holiday shopping season, I feel suddenly, tentatively hopeful that we’re reclaiming some of our familiar rhythms—a bit haltingly, a bit differently perhaps, but finding a little bit of our old selves nonetheless.
It was such a breath of back-to-normal fresh air to see the crowds back in the store over the holidays, clearly embracing the joys of getting out, shopping local, and talking books with their friendly neighborhood booksellers (a trend that has continued with unusually strong traffic in these traditionally lighter winter months). But for a store that typically revolves so heavily around events, festivals, and partnerships, the absence of those interactive collaborations over the last couple of years left a big hole—not only in BookPeople’s business, but in how we booksellers extend our mission beyond our walls and engage creatively with the role of books in our community.Continue reading
Someone recently asked me in relation to the pandemic’s formidable, sustained power “what life is like in the store these days, what’s different and what’s the same?” A singular traumatic event is more concise in its changes. The pandemic is more like reading the same book at different points in life: it casts us back upon ourselves for answers that are deceptively hard to define because we have changed ourselves. We have become unreliable narrators in our own stories.Continue reading