Monday, November 21, 2005

I bet it doesn't have an index, either

Via Achockablog, I learn that Brent Hartinger's funny and real Geography Club has been banned from the senior and junior high schools in University Place, Washington. Not because of the gay content, mais non, but because the boys meet on the dreaded Internet. I am once more reminded of the librarian who removed the notorious Show Me! from her collection because "it didn't have an index."

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ooooh, that dreaded internet. Men with glasses wearing bow ties, authors of children's books -- you never know who may be lurking in the shadows.

The irony is that Brent Hartinger handled the internet chat room responsibly, and there's a lesson to be learned there. Still, the book was banned under the auspicies of the chat room being dangerous. Is it possible there's a case of homophobia at University Place?

Lisa Yee
www.lisayee.com
www.livejournal.com/users/lisayee
AS IF! Member

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the note, Roger (and the nice words!).

From those of us who get stomach aches easily (like me!), this is almost too much. But at least it's good for sales... ;-)

Brent Hartinger
brentsbrain@harbornet.com

Roger Sutton said...

Hi Brent (and sorry for misspelling your name; will fix right now)--is it really good for sales? Conventional wisdom has it that while controversy is good for adult books, it more often has a negative effect on juvenile sales. I think Geography Club's profile could be lifted in the retail market because of this ban but I'm afraid it will simply make other school librarians eith more skittish or relieved that they have a "respectable" reason for not purchasing or deleting the book.

Anonymous said...

Interesting point. Brent, it would be telling to track sales to libraries vs. sales to retail.

I have heard of "silent censorship," which is what Roger speaks of, where the books are not purchased. Or worse, quietly removed from the shelf so as not to tempt controversy.

Lisa Yee
www.lisayee.com
www.livejournal.com/users/lisayee
AS IF! Member

Brent Hartinger said...

I don't think GC's great strength was ever in library sales--it's always been retail. And hopefully most of the libraries that are the type that WOULD buy GC are not kind that would be dissuaded by this controversy.

I do think my book illustrates the red state/blue state divide pretty clearly: it's VERY controversial in red states (and rural areas) and mostly not controversial at all in blue states (and urban areas).

In any event, the book has been out for three years now, so I'm hoping this will be win-win: raise my profile for future books, but not jeopardize any existing sales, because they've mostly all already taken place.

Who knows? I do know I did a signing today, and half the people who walked by in the bookstore pointed to my book and said, "Oh, that's the book that was banned!" So I'm a "celebrity" of sorts, at least locally.

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