Judging a bookstore by its covers

My blog neighbor Nancy French visited a bookstore in Tennessee the other day and got an eyeful:

There, right next to the nice Civil War section (this is Tennessee, after all) is apparently a “sexuality” section, showing various sexual positions in plain view.  And when I showing, I mean showing.

One book promised to make this the most erotic year of your life with 365 sexual positions – one of which was shown in plain, naked view on its cover. Another was about the art of erotic massage, and had a naked woman’s torso with a man’s hand – barely – covering her.  (And no, I’m not being a prude.  I’ve blocked out the image of the book shelf above, but here are two of the images in case you are wondering what kids walk by in Books-a-Million stores all across the nation – warning, obviously —here and here.)

Thankfully, no damage had been done.  I have a four, an eleven, and a thirteen year old, but they hadn’t seen the display.  I promptly, turned the books face down, figuring some teenage kids had come in and thought it would be funny to put pornographic images out in plain view.

Discreetly, I went to talk to a worker at the store.

“I think someone’s played a prank in the ‘sexuality’ section,” I said.  “It’s probably just some kids, but there are very sexual images that wouldn’t leave much to kids’ imaginations over there.”

The cashier shook her head and said, “Those books on the top shelf are exactly as they are supposed to be.”

“You mean the one that literally shows two people having sex is supposed to be out in plain view?”

She pointed at a poster on the customer service desk.  “You can call corporate if you like.”

She did. Read on to find out what happened.


  1. Darnit! You HAVE THE BEST HEADLINE ever!! :) Thanks!

  2. Hah. And Books a Million is a “Christian” company, that replaced aisles of literature with Inspirational Fiction.

  3. Maybe BAM “corporate” just thinks conservative Christians are all focused on those millions of SSA people taking over the institution of marriage. What’s a little sex, if it’s between a man and a woman?

    And many of you “orthodox” people don’t think corporations are the big problem. Sheesh.

  4. Richard M says:

    Have they lost their minds?

  5. Richard M says:

    Apparently, they’ve decided that sex sells better than Christianity.

  6. Bill Logan says:

    The bookstore is probably getting money for this book promotion, hence the cashier’s advice to call corporate headquarters about any objections. I’m a bit mystified by the people who say they’ll now shop at Barnes & Noble due to this; clearly they’re not familiar with the term “endcap”. Cathleen Kaveny has a good blog post at dotCommonweal about desire, capitalism, and sexual ethics.

  7. They better take the placement money, because very few will buy books like that in person when they can do so anonymously on line.

  8. pagansister says:

    Oh Darn!—no Books a Million in my area and I won’t get my advice on how to “do it” with my husband. :o)

  9. I don’t know what is worse with all of this hyper-sexualization of society, that they are tossing morality into the gutter or that, far from being titilating, they are simply making sex tedious and boring.

  10. fiestamom says:

    Folks, this is a perfect use for Twitter. Call attention to @booksamillion this way. Use creative hashtags that their corporate office won’t want “out there”. The new media is meant to be used for good, not evil. :)

  11. fiestamom says:

    I suspect @booksamillion wouldn’t want their name mixed with a hashtag like #porn or #doingharmtochildren

  12. Midwestlady says:

    It’s all about what the market will bear. If people will buy it, they will sell it. The problem is that there’s a market for it, aka that people will buy it and therefore make it profitable. Companies don’t do things to be evil; they don’t do things unless they get rewarded for them. People reward them because society deems this sort of thing acceptable; that’s the real problem.

  13. Midwestlady says:

    The bigger question is “have consumers lost their minds?” It appears enough people are willing to fork over the cash and they have made this sort of thing profitable as a result. What’s wrong with consumers?

  14. Midwestlady says:

    This is true. And it may serve to be instructive. Apparently the market is so large that it can support both online sales and storefront sales. AND perhaps this has been going on so long that it’s now acceptable to do this in a storefront display. That ought to cause some real consternation.

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