Are banned books a sales opportunity or political risk for Barnes & Noble? – RetailWire

Mar 08, 2022

Barnes & Noble has added a page on its website and small sections to some stores featuring “Banned And Challenged Books,” or books that have faced censorship.

On its banned books page, Barnes & Noble noted that “Maus,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel about the Holocaust, as well as world-wide bestsellers like Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” and the “Harry Potter” series, have recently been challenged and restricted.

The retailer explains that literary works are usually banned on “moral, religious or political grounds.”

“They were believed to be obscene or too controversial to be read by society,” Barnes & Noble explained. “Books that explore race, sexuality and new concepts and ideas are still often prohibited by certain communities, although they can easily be purchased in most bookstores.”

Disputes over removing books from school libraries and curriculum have a long history in the US Calls for book bans from state elected officials or parents have emerged in recent years, driven by conservatives and often tied to themes around the nation’s racial history and gender identity.

Barnes & Noble’s banned book list features many of these books, including “The 1619 Project” by Nikole Hannah-Jones, along with recently banned books as a result of complaints from liberal voices, including “Hop on Pop” by Dr. Seuss and Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”.

The nearly 200 books featured also include classics, such as “1984” by George Orwell, “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee and “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury.

The site includes a number of articles, including ones titled, “7 Banned Books That Should Be Required Reading” and “11 Books That Were Banned for Completely Ridiculous Reasons,” that offer insights behind the censorship.

Holly Noble, a manager at the Barnes & Noble in Erie, PA, said her store’s banned book tables have been well received.

“We have all walks of life in our country, and we have all walks of life in our store,” she told “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.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think of Barnes & Noble’s move to market and merchandise books that are facing or have faced censorship? Do you see the appeal offsetting any political backlash?

brain trust

“As a society, we simply must resist this renewed urge to ban anything that challenges our worldview.”


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.