Booksellers Respond to Book Challenges and Bans (

On the closing day of the American Booksellers Association Winter Institute 2023, a keynote and idea exchange tackled book banning and other threats to the freedom to read. Stories of outrage were easy to come by: booksellers report going uninvited to book fairs, moving children’s books off tables occupied by general “adult” titles, or second-guessing whether to host Drag Queen Story Time. But solutions were in shorter supply. Booksellers are frustrated with schools’ and libraries’ capitulations to uninformed book challenges, despite understanding the fears of harassment and violence driving those chilling decisions.

ABA chief communications officer Ray Daniels moderated a panel that included Gender Queer author Maia Kobabe, Rediscovered Books co-owner Laura DeLaney, Green Feather Book Company proprietor Heather Hall, and Kendrick Washington, director of policy at the ACLU of Washington. “I have had a wild ride over the past couple of years,” said Kobabe, whose memoir tops the American Library Association’s list of 10 most-challenged books. “I have seen a rise of book sales, but I think most of those sales are to adults and people who listen to NPR. People in book deserts are the ones missing out. We shouldn’t have to have a lawsuit in every single school district just to have the books in schools and libraries. It’s such a drain on resources.”
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