ABFFE and Banned Books Week

Tue, 03/12/2013 - 16:01 -- Inessa Spencer

Booksellers celebrated Banned Books Week in style in 2012.  They came up with provocative displays, creative videos and community events tailored to censorship issues of 2012.  Celebrity supporters such as Bill Moyers, John Waters and Lawrence Ferlinghetti  lent their voice to the cause with impassioned readings of banned books and videos like Moyers’ that spoke of censorship being the enemy of the truth.   ABFFE’s president Chris Finan participated in local festivities in Durango, Colorado at Maria’s Bookshop and at the Durango Literary Festival  where the theme was censorship this year.  Speaking at Ft. Lewis College and on a downtown radio show, Chris imparted lessons learned in the daily struggle against zealous regulators. We did an especially good job of publicizing Banned Books Week this year.  Chris published articles in Louisville Courier-Journal  and on the front page of the local Durango paper whose publisher invited him to address his editors at their daily meeting.  Also all of the wonderful videos produced by bookstores increased our internet visibility.  Bookmans Bookstore’s video was immensely popular with 17,000 views.   City Lights Bookstore produced a video featuring owner Lawrence Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who was prosecuted for publishing Allen Ginsberg's Howl, reading from James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.Bookstores created special events to appeal to patrons of varying ages and persuasions.  Inwood Books in Tampa Florida hosted an open mike night at a coffee house where people could mingle, read from their favorite banned books and win prizes.   Other stores appealed to the brainier amongst us by hosting lawyers from the Media Law Resource Center (MLRC) who spoke about first amendment law and current free speech controversies.  Bookman’s addressed the Arizona school board’s controversial shutting down of the Mexican American Studies Program by creating an evening lecture with important Chicano writers including Sandra Cisneros whose book House on Mango Street was banned by the school board.Chapter One Bookstore, Ninth Street Book Shop and the University of Alaska Anchorage Bookstore featured conversation initiating displays.  At Chapter One Bookstore in Wilmington, Delaware they created a beautiful window presentation that centered a “Be Free Read” Statue of Liberty poster in the middle of books labeled “the top 10 most challenged books.”