Notes: Indiana Censorship Law; Harry Potter in Academe
One of the stranger censorship laws we've heard about, signed into law last week by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, requires mainstream bookstores in the Hoosier State to register with the government if they sell "sexually explicit materials." As is often the case with these kinds of laws, "sexually explicit" is defined so broadly as to apply to mainstream novels, work with any kind of sexual content and educational books about sexuality and sexual health.
One of the bill's sponsors told the Indianapolis Star that the law is aimed at "helping counties that do not have zoning ordinances track businesses selling sexually explicit material, including videos, magazines and books," especially adult stores that open along interstates in the southern part of the state. And a spokesperson for the governor told the Star that the law applies only to new businesses, those that relocate or businesses that begin offering "sexually explicit" material after the law goes into effect.
But many booksellers and legal experts disagree. "This lumps us in with businesses that sell things that you can't even mention in a family newspaper," Ernie Ford, owner of Fine Print Book Store in Greencastle, said in the Star.
In a statement, ABFFE president Chris Finan said, "It is un-American to force booksellers to register with the government based on the kinds of books they carry. It is also unconstitutional, and we intend to do everything we can to challenge this violation of the First Amendment rights of Indiana booksellers and their customers."
The Great Lakes Booksellers Association, 15 independent bookstores and Borders Group sent a letter to the governor before he signed the bill. But a statement from the governor's office indicated that he had not received the letter and that "no complaints were brought to our attention."
Now the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression is asking the Media Coalition to challenge the new law.
We hear that several people in marketing and buying, including Patsy Jones, senior v-p of merchandising, were let go recently from American Wholesale Book Company, Books-A-Million's book wholesale and distribution company.
Earnings interest. In 2006, Senator Barack Obama received nearly $507,000 in royalties from The Audacity of Hope and Dreams from My Father, according to CNN, which looked at tax returns filed by the Senator and his wife that were posted on his campaign's website yesterday. In 2005, he earned more than $1.2 million in royalties.
Harry Potter and the hallowed halls of academe. CNN.com
reported that J.K. Rowling's series is becoming a popular staple of
college classrooms: "Drawing on their expertise in theology, children's
literature, globalization studies and even the history of witchcraft,
professors have been able to use Harry Potter to attract crowds of
students eager to take on a disciplined study of the books."
Danielle Tumminio, the instructor for Yale's Harry Potter course, "Christian Theology and Harry Potter," said, "It was a struggle for me as I put the class together, because I knew if I didn't construct this really well . . . that a lot of what I was doing would be missed or misconstrued. I certainly didn't want to come across as someone trying to indoctrinate my students. I also wanted to make it clear that it was a critical endeavor, and that it wasn't . . . that you'd sit around all day talking about how great Luna Lovegood was."
From the Square Books, Oxford, Miss., newsletter:
"We are all atwitter at the upcoming marriage of two of our favorite people--Cody Morrison, the store's book buyer and all-around book expert, and Katie Snodgrass, former manager of and inspiration for Square Books, Jr."
Effective April 21, John Tagler joins the Association of American Publishers as v-p and executive director of the professional and scholarly publishing division. He will work in the AAP's New York office and succeeds Barbara Meredith, who retired last year.
Tagler had a 30-year career at Elsevier, beginning as a library sales rep and most recently v-p, customer marketing, academic and government libraries.