(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — Following a national trend the Erie Barnes & Noble store has set up a “banned books” table.
The table features books that have been “banned” by institutions, such as schools and libraries. The books may have been banned anywhere to be featured on the table, and the books on the table may not specifically be banned anywhere locally.
Books on the local table include “A Light in the Attic” by Shel Silverstein, “Animal Farm” by George Orwell, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J. K. Rowling, and “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Local store manager Holly Noble (“No relation,” she says) said the table has been well received.
“A lot of people are very excited about it,” Noble said. “Sometimes when they read a book, they’ll come back and say they don’t understand why it was banned.”
That, Noble said, fosters a broader conversation.
“We have all walks of life in our country, and we have all walks of life in our store. This starts conversations as to why things have been banned in the past, and it gets people thinking about why these books are being banned now,” she said.
The Barnes & Noble website includes a complete list of banned books for sale. To find it, go to the company’s website and search “banned books.”
And while Barnes & Noble did not mandate that its local stores host a table featuring banned books, the local Erie store chose to.
“We don’t ban any books because we have a variety of customers who come to our store with different philosophies and different ideas,” Noble said. “We don’t necessarily agree with everything we sell, but still, this is America, and freedom is a choice, and that’s why we don’t ban them.”
Noble shared the company’s official censorship statement:
“As booksellers, we carry thousands of magazines and books whose subject matter some may find offensive. Over the years, we have received countless requests and demands to stop selling everything from ‘The Merchant of Venice’ to ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,’ ‘The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,’ even ‘The Living Bible.’
“At Barnes & Noble, we take our mission very seriously – to be a valuable resource to our customers, bringing books and ideas to the American public. We live in a diverse culture, and that diversity is reflected in the wide range of interest, philosophies, and lifestyles of our customers. The guiding principle we use to determine what we carry is simple: We carry an extensive selection of books and allow our customers to decide what to buy and read. After all, freedom of choice is at the very heart of our democratic society.
“It is understandable that some customers may strongly oppose the content of a particular title and choose not to purchase it; we respect their opinions. In return, we ask that our customers respect our responsibility to offer a selection of reading materials as diverse as the society in which we live – the very society that grants the freedom for these materials to exist.”
The table is one of the first tables when a customer enters the local store in Erie. Customers can browse the table, or they can ignore it and purchase any other book from the vast collection of books available along the shelves and tables throughout the store.
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“It boils down to freedom of choice – if someone doesn’t want to read something, don’t read it,” Noble said.