A friend who didn't know me very well gave me a gift card at Barnes and Noble. Since the corporate scum already have the profit, I figured I might as well use that money for a good book. To my shock, the Barnes and Noble I visited (Oakbrook, IL) did not have any books by Leonard Peltier, Ralph Nader, Winona LaDuke, and Cornell West. (At the time, this was all of the authors I could think of, there are most definitely more) I was getting mad and was trying to think of how far this would go before I found a book in stock, I asked if they had a book of speeches by Martin Luther King Jr. The woman looking it up said there is a book, but it is not in stock. I'm surprised there wasn't a table set up for Martin Luther King Jr! McDonalds has
corporatized him with an edited speech on their trays.
By this time, another worker had taken an interest in the fact that I couldn't find a single book I wanted yet. I asked if there was anything by Abbie Hoffman, Aha! There is one book in the US History section. The other worker was kind enough to offer to find the book for me and we both went to find the book. She finds it and then, with no one around tells me that there is a very conservative manager who has been stopping books from coming in that she has tried to order for the store. I am shocked, she tells me she can't even think of all the books that were supposed to come in for the Fiction and Literature section, but said that this was also true for children books, in which she had orders 5 copies of "The Giving Tree" and not a single copy came in. She told me that customers are welcome to order a book and it will come in 5 days or so, but most customers are turned off by this.
The book by Abbie Hoffman was "Letters from the Underground" or something close to that name and was written by someone else as well as Abbie Hoffman.
I was mad that this book I've never heard of before is the best I could find and decided I'm not going to give money to this store and left. It was then that I realized that if I just gave up, I have already lost and I went back
in and ordered books. Unfortunately, the woman who had told me her secret was unable to order my books for me as some other guy got to me first. I ordered books by Winona LaDuke, Leonard Peltier, and Cornell West. I was going to
order a book of speeches by Martin Luther King Jr, however the guy was able to find a book in stock on the computer and directed me to the African American studies section and that book was the book I bought. I guess that corporations haven't been able to edit enough books to make a table for
Martin Luther King day so they keep all his books hidden a back section away from the controlled "Fiction and Literature" section.
Another problem I found at Barnes and Noble was my inability to find copies of BuisnessWeek magazine on the shelves in the magazine section, however when
I asked if they had the magazine they did have it in stock somewhere. If I didn't hear about the magazine through Ralph Nader I never would have found it in the store.
The point of my story is that Barnes and Noble has allowed managers to edit their stores as they please and this is hurting our society who probably don't know these books exist. We need to take action across the nation and
around the world and tell Barnes and Noble that this type of behavior will not be tolerated. My suggestion for now is to go to Barnes and Noble and order as many books as you can think of that are not in stock. Especially
Leonard Peltier which is probably not stocked in a single store. (check the store first so they can't find a book in an obscure corner of the store, thus allowing the person who is ordering the books to realize how far censorship
exists) Before you go into book order mode, ask if they have in stock any books by each author and act surprised. You probably will be already! I am planning to write the manager of the Oakbrook Barnes and Noble, as well as
the CEO, but the opportunity given to us to order books and not buy them when they come in is almost too good to be true. Obviously, we will not buy books from conservative, censoring, corporate abusers and with many people ordering
the same books the message will be clear that these books need to be shelved or else they will have to order the books. This ordering process takes time folks and time is money to Barnes and Noble when lines get long. I'm not sure if Barnes and Noble returns books that are not bought to the warehouse they came from or put them on the shelves. No matter what though, unless they have the book in stock you have the right, as a customer, to demand they order that book. I suggest masses of people coming in together to create a protest of people wanting to read Leonard Peltier!
I am looking forward to holding up the lines at Barnes
and Noble with my friends once I go back to school next week.
Nick Berveiler, ISU student