How one Atlanta bookstore is choosing up the battle in opposition to e-book bans : NPR

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Jan Bolgla and Bob Roarty have owned and operated Atlanta Classic Books for greater than 16 years.

Fernando Alfonso III/NPR


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Fernando Alfonso III/NPR


Jan Bolgla and Bob Roarty have owned and operated Atlanta Classic Books for greater than 16 years.

Fernando Alfonso III/NPR

BROOKHAVEN, Ga. — The graphic novel adaptation of Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Younger Lady was the final e-book Jan Bolgla anticipated to see yanked off public library cabinets within the 16 years since she and her husband purchased a used bookstore full of cats, paintings and, as of this previous week, a banned e-book part.

Bolgla shared this somber commentary on the eve of Banned Books Week whereas petting Large Boo, a Maine Coon rescue purring atop a glass case filled with uncommon books. Close to the shop’s entrance was a bookshelf Bolgla’s sister-in-law Michele Bolgla had stocked with Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, George Orwell’s 1984 and J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher within the Rye, every of which have been or are at the moment banned in components of the U.S.

That is the second 12 months Bolgla and her retailer have participated in Banned Books Week, which ran from Sept. 18 by Saturday, out of pure necessity and solidarity, she stated.

One of many everlasting fixtures of Atlanta Classic Books has been its household of stray cats, together with Large Boo.

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One of many everlasting fixtures of Atlanta Classic Books has been its household of stray cats, together with Large Boo.

Fernando Alfonso III/NPR

“We’re very into books being a spot of data, and sharing information, and banning books and censorship is basically one thing we really feel strongly about,” Bolgla, 66, stated.

“There shouldn’t be censorship,” she stated. “… Booksellers are fortunate, as a result of we get to promote no matter we wish to promote. So we will promote the banned books, however what they’re doing to varsities and libraries, for that technology arising, not with the ability to expertise range as a lot and seeing it as a nasty factor, we really feel very strongly that it isn’t the best approach to go.”

A part of a small rise up

Bolgla’s retailer, Atlanta Classic Books, is one among tons of of unbiased bookstores throughout the nation which have celebrated the liberty to learn this week at a time when faculties, universities and public libraries face what specialists say are unprecedented makes an attempt to ban or prohibit studying supplies.

The U.S. is on observe to see the variety of e-book challenges exceed these in 2021, the American Library Affiliation stated in a information launch.

Between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31 this 12 months, the ALA stated it recorded 681 makes an attempt to ban or prohibit library sources, and 1,651 distinctive titles had been focused. In all of 2021, there have been 729 makes an attempt to censor library sources, concentrating on 1,597 books — “the very best variety of tried e-book bans since ALA started compiling these lists greater than 20 years in the past,” the group stated.

The irony of books like Fahrenheit 451 being banned in components of the U.S. will not be misplaced on the homeowners of Atlanta Classic Books. Ray Bradbury’s dystopian novel tells the story of a future the place books have been outlawed in society.

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The irony of books like Fahrenheit 451 being banned in components of the U.S. will not be misplaced on the homeowners of Atlanta Classic Books. Ray Bradbury’s dystopian novel tells the story of a future the place books have been outlawed in society.

Fernando Alfonso III/NPR

Impartial shops like Bolgla’s have an important function to play in offering bodily entry to books in states like Texas, South Carolina, Wisconsin and Georgia the place public libraries are underneath risk of censorship, stated Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of ALA’s Workplace for Mental Freedom.

“Booksellers are dedicated to free entry to data and so they have their very own advocacy group to guard their freedom to offer data to their communities, make books out there of their communities,” Caldwell-Stone informed NPR. “I feel booksellers are an important a part of the ecology of studying and entry to data.”

Banned Books Week is without doubt one of the most necessary methods to counter banning makes an attempt and to present voice to those that have been marginalized for a lot too lengthy, stated Ray Daniels, chief communications officer for the American Booksellers Affiliation. And but regardless of the independence afforded to the ABA’s greater than 2,000 members unfold throughout 2,500 places, some haven’t been proof against censorship, Daniels informed NPR.

“We hear from our unbiased bookstore members that these sorts of makes an attempt at censorship are spilling over into bookstores, with prospects complaining if a retailer carries a e-book that they do not like. We firmly consider a bookstore has a proper to curate its retailer because it sees match,” he stated.

This concern was additionally echoed by Jonathan Friedman, director of free expression and teaching programs at PEN America.

“I feel it is solely a matter of time earlier than there’s extra strain positioned on unbiased booksellers, as nicely,” Friedman informed NPR.

“I feel democracy is much more fragile,” he stated. “I feel the safety of freedoms that we have now to promote books, purchase books, learn books, write books, I feel these rights are much more fragile than folks could have imagined in recent times and brought with no consideration. And now we’re seeing what occurs after we begin to chip away at these rights.”

A lifetime price of ink of their veins

Every day since buying Atlanta Classic Books has been an journey, Bob Roarty, 69, stated.

Some days, these adventures contain holding a signed first version of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, printed in 1939, whereas others have concerned gazing upon a signed copy of Charles Dickens’ Laborious Occasions, printed in 1854.

The love Roarty and Bolgla have for books has been nurtured for greater than a half-century between them; the previous as a printer and the latter as a designer. At one time, the couple owned a publishing firm referred to as Drury Lane Publishers.

“We love books, we love the texture of books. We love how they’re made,” Bolgla stated. “We’re avid readers. I feel Bob is a quick reader. I am a gradual reader.”

The couple bought the shop in 2006 after recognizing a for-sale advert in an area Atlanta paper, Bolgla stated. They noticed the shop as a approach to escape the infinite deadlines each confronted of their skilled lives, Bolgla stated.

A take a look at the signal outdoors Atlanta Classic Books in Brookhaven, Ga.

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A take a look at the signal outdoors Atlanta Classic Books in Brookhaven, Ga.

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“We thought, if we do not strive it, we’ll remorse it. And if we have now to sleep within the basement, we’ll sleep within the basement of the shop,” Bolgla stated. “We each have the identical philosophy about loving books, eager to strive it. And shifting on to one thing new. And we had sort of no thought what we had been about to do.”

No matter doubt the pair as soon as had is not obvious. Final 12 months marked one of the best for Atlanta Classic Books and the shop is at the moment on tempo this 12 months to match or exceed that, Bolgla stated. Banned Books Week has factored into this success, for higher or worse, Michele Bolgla stated.

“There may be a lot worry and ignorance on the earth now, the idea of maintaining information away from folks is extra scary than ever,” she added. “I’m reminded of my favourite quote, from one of many most-banned authors, Ray Bradbury: ‘You do not have to burn books to destroy a tradition. Simply get folks to cease studying them.’ “

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