By the American Booksellers Association, the Association of American Publishers, the American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom, the Children’s Book Council, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance
The governor of North Carolina recently signed into law House Bill 2, which repeals local ordinances protecting the civil liberties of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. This action is being vigorously protested across the country and includes threats to boycott North Carolina businesses. The boycott is a powerful weapon that seeks to influence politicians by threatening the economy of a state. However, a boycott can also harm innocent third parties. That appears to be happening in North Carolina.
A distinguished group of 269 children’s book authors and illustrators recently issued an open letter to North Carolina readers expressing their anger at the passage of H.B. 2 and calling for its repeal. The letter promised that “we will never abandon our thousands and thousands of readers in North Carolina.” It also assured them, “we will continue to visit your schools and libraries.” Although the letter does not refer explicitly to bookstores, North Carolina booksellers assumed that authors would continue to visit them as well. However, one best-selling author has cancelled an appearance as well as visits to local schools that had been arranged by an independent bookstore. There is growing concern among other booksellers in the state that they may also be boycotted.
We urge all authors and illustrators as well as their publishers not to boycott North Carolina bookstores. Many independent booksellers opposed H.B. 2 in the legislature and are actively seeking its repeal. In addition, they have a long history of fighting efforts to censor books with LGBTQ themes.
The punishment for passing H.B. 2 should fall on the governor and state legislators, not on booksellers who play a vital role in promoting tolerance and diversity.