Saturday, December 5, 2009
Books are Dangerous
I was called down to the counter last week to talk to someone who had asked for the manager. Waiting for me was a priest, and he was holding this book, Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary. He said to me, "This book is very offensive to the Virgin Mary. I'm wondering if you also carry books that are offensive to Judaism and Islam." My response was "I'm sure we carry lots of books that are offensive to a lot of people." He was polite and thanked me and put the book back and left.
I know this sort of thing happens all the time. Once, back when the Balkan War was raging, a man with an Eastern European accent approached a Green Apple employee with a copy of The Lonely Planet Guide to Serbia and Croatia or something like that. The man was shaking with rage, and he said "They are two different places." The employee wasn't sure how to respond, and the man repeated what he'd said, then he ripped the book in two right in front of the employee.
My point is that most things are offensive to somebody. This story in the Chronicle got my dander up. It is about how bookstores in the Bay Area aren't carrying Sarah Palin's book because they disagree with her politics. I can see a bookstore not carrying a book because they honestly don't think they can sell a copy, but for a general-interest bookstore to edit a book out because they disagree with the contents seems like a slippery slope.
The point I want to make is that Green Apple does not stand behind every book we sell (we have our book of the month for that). The store is filled with all sorts of crackpot, idiotic, self-serving, meretricious and offensive books. There are also quite a number of worthy ones. Have at them.