Friday, August 31, 2007

Is getting banned good for your book? It could be.

One of my favorite books of all time is J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, which also happens to rank high up on the American Library Association’s list of 100 Most Challenged Books from 1990 to 2000. Although the somewhat-controversial book wasn’t included in the curriculum of my high school’s English department in Middle Of Nowhere, Texas, that didn’t stop me from reading it.

With the ALA’s 26th Annual Banned Books Week next month, the organization has started building buzz again for its list of most challenged books of 2006. At the top of the list is And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell. The children’s book covers the true story of two male penguins living in the New York Zoo who partnered up to raise a baby penguin after the egg was abandoned by its original parents. The book received a total of 546 written challenges last year. According to the ALA, a challenge is “an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials.” Other books on the 2006 list include Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and Beloved, Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Robert Cormier’s The Chocolate War. The ALA carefully noted that The Catcher in the Rye, which annually holds a top spot on the list, didn’t make the cut this year. I guess people aren’t so offended by Holden Caulfield anymore.

It bodes well for the PR industry that, excuse the cliché, “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.” Challenged and banned books are way more interesting to the media and the public than the books that are easily accepted into schools and libraries without a second thought.

Controversy, when packaged correctly, can be a very good thing for book sales and a great thing for your publicist.

Do you have a favorite banned book? Are there any books you’d like to see banned from libraries, Amazon and any other retail outlets, just because? Apparently B&N has reneged on its plan to ban O.J.’s book (so much for the moral stance).
I’ll go first. I'd like to ban Paris Hilton’s Confessions of an Heiress, just because it’s Paris Hilton.

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