I read an article in today’s paper. It was about a book called Tampa by Alissa Nutting. The book is about a female teacher who preys on teenage boys. The author has apparently described it as a contemporary Lolita. It certainly has a provocative cover.
This article was partly an interview with a bookseller in Sydney, who has refused to stock the book. Why? Because she says, ‘ Sometimes I take what I define as the moral high ground. I just felt I’m in an environment where I couldn’t personally promote this.’ She goes on to say her store is surrounded by many churches and she sees the ‘enormous stress of this ongoing problem of child abuse’. There has been some press in the US about the book although it’s not published here until 24 July. And she’s apparently not the only Australian bookseller to refuse to stock the book on the back of this.
Obviously as a bookseller there are a lot of opportunities to ‘take the moral high ground’. Do we stock books on guns? Fictional stories of murders, mass murders of both adults and children? For that matter, graphic, confronting true stories? I remember fellow booksellers who refused to stock L Ron Hubbard’s books as he was a Scientologist. I also recall when American Psycho was released it was wrapped in plastic with an R rating plastered over it after much chatter about the level of violent content. The plastic, and the rating, seemed only to achieve higher sales for the book.
I don’t know, for my mind, I never felt I had the right to dictate what people who visited my bookstore wanted to and could read. It’s a freedom of choice for me. Readers make their own objective choices.
What do you think?