Celebrating the Book Publishing Tradition
Fortunately, despite the many challenges, criticisms, protests and sometimes danger, the industry does persist. Unfortunately, so does book burning and banning.
In 2001, a group of people in New Mexico burned “Harry Potter” books, alongside books by Stephen King and other books they considered to be works of the devil. Other groups have targeted the J.K. Rowling books as well and called upon their members to protest at bookstores, organize book burnings and even grab the books from people’s hands to set them aflame. Last year, someone set fire to a section of gay and lesbian literature in the Chicago Public Library. And these are just a couple of examples. There are many more stories that could be told.
HarperCollins—the subject of this issue’s cover story (page 18)—has, like many other publishers, faced its share of protest and controversy. The company’s children’s group even has a Web page (www.HarperChildrens.com/Features/Banned.htm) that continues to promote the “Freedom to Read.” It says:
“People have been banning books since 387 B.C. Today, in all 50 states, individuals and groups alike continue to attempt to restrict our freedom of access to written works they deem objectionable. We here at HarperCollins Children’s Books are committed to discussing and defending issues surrounding the First Amendment to the Constitution. This site was set up to promote Banned Books Week 1995 (Sept. 21-28), and will remain as a permanent resource for those who want information about censorship.”
While we don’t celebrate it enough, the world owes an immeasurable debt to this industry.