“I Work in a Bookstore. Why Am I Still Shelving ‘Mein Kampf’?”

Alexa Abdalla at Electric Lit:

When Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced it would no longer be publishing six of Dr. Seuss’s books which have aged problematically, the bookstore I work at in Scranton, Pennsylvania had a flurry of very concerned customers.

People were coming up with stacks of his books along with an unsolicited-by-me explanation for why they were buying in bulk. They had to get them before they no longer could. Sure, it might only be three titles today, none of which they would have considered buying otherwise, some of which they’d never heard of. But what about tomorrow? What happens when we cancel Green Eggs and Ham?

I do understand the worry. A friend of a friend on Facebook shared a post that suggested no good ever came from banning books and it gave me pause. Then again, those six Dr. Seuss books are not even technically banned, at least not by any federal mandate. Dr. Seuss Enterprises decided independently to stop publishing—and profiting from—specific titles which included racist caricatures, and they weren’t even pressured to do so. They simply made a judgment call based on the social climate of our time and did the right thing.

My bookstore doesn’t sell those books anymore. But we do sell Mein Kampf.

Mein Kampf should be preserved for history. But that doesn’t mean it should be sold retail.

The government should not ban it, but bookstores should refuse to carry it. Release it in the public domain and let people download it online, or get it from the library.