Forget Fabio: Books-a-Million Displays Books With Pornographic Covers in Plain View of Children

What’s more fun that taking the kids for a leisurely day at the bookstore?

That’s what I was thinking when I went to Books-a-Million in Spring Hill, Tennessee – a great store, and I’m not just saying that because they’ve helped me hold nice book signing events (for this, this, and this).   We arrived in the wonderful brick-and-mortar store, ready for a day of walking down aisles and finding new reads.  However, I came across something pretty shocking.

Someone had pulled a prank.

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.”

A little flummoxed, I did just that.  Instead of shopping for mother’s day, I dialed the number right there in the store.  While I was on hold, another worker explained that these were paid positions on the shelf and that they weren’t allowed to deviate from what corporate dictates.

“But my kids would learn exactly how to have sex simply from the cover,” I explained.

“Well, we have it tucked away next to the military history section,” she said.  “Most kids don’t walk down that aisle. Just men.”

“Tucked away” is not what I’d call the second aisle of a store, in plain view, on the top shelf.  Plus, are we okay sending men over to read about the Civil War, only to have them see pornographic images?  This is what I explained to headquarters, which listened politely and supposedly took down the book title information.

Anyway, I assume that every store is laid out with the same books on full display, so be warned.  Before you attempt to support your brick and mortar book store, realize that you might get your kids hooked on more than just reading.

If you’d like to contact Books-a-Million, please feel free to e-mail them support@booksamillion.com or call them at 1-800-201-3550.

UPDATE: The Tennessean Investigates


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About Nancy French

Nancy French is a three time New York Times Best Selling Author.

  • Jennifer

    It may be next to the Civil War section, but the sign for the kids’ section is clearly visible only a couple of aisles back. I know that my kids wander that far when they find something they like and don’t see me standing right next to them. I’m thankful we don’t have this particular chain of bookstores near us.

    • http://www.NancyFrench.com Nancy French

      I know, right, Jennifer? ugh.

  • Jill Joiner

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention. This is the store my son and I hang out in. Many grown men speak of how one visual at a young age, at an inopportune time, was the start to their lifelong fight…

    • Skeptical

      Their lifelong fight? With sexual images? Men should find sexual images attractive–if they don’t, that’s going to cause bigger problems. Women should too, for that matter–it’s a natural drive, like hunger. And of course, the best way to channel that drive is towards healthy, rather than unhealthy satisfaction (in the case of food, fruits and veg over fried Snickers bars). In the case of sex, this means good relationships. But just as with dieting, it’s the attempt to cover up the drive itself that leads people to binge (i.e. cheat, sleep around, etc). This is why abstinence-only education has been shown in every single study to not work at all (Don’t think of an elephant, don’t think of an elephant…).

      A sex manual has a healthy purpose–it makes it so that a couple can be open about their individual drives and satisfy each other. Is the cover image pornographic? Sure. But try to have a car repair manual without a picture of a car on it.

      The idea that an image of sex is going to corrupt anyone is exactly why people need these manuals. We’ve taken a natural, healthy, beneficial act and spent centuries saying that it’s awful and terrible, and no one should ever do it or think about it (stop thinking about elephants!). At the age of four, your kid probably already knows that he or she has different parts than some other kids. They’re already curious about why that is. Either they’re not going to understand this image at all (they don’t yet have the drive to process it, really) in which case, your making a big deal out of it will be more likely to scar them than the image itself, or else you can have a talk with them that will benefit them in the long-run.

      They’re going to see a sexual image sooner or later (probably sooner and later no matter how much you try to shield them). And it’s only going to be as important to them as you make it.

      Should BAM have a better corporate culture where the sales assistant can just swap out the offending books? Yeah, definitely. That’s their problem to sort out. But don’t worry about your kids. They’ll be fine.

      • bigyaz

        What I came to say, but you said it so much better.

      • Iza

        I completely agree thank you for stating what all people should learn. I believe that sheltering children from the true about sex is just helping with teen and unplanned pregnancy. FREE THE INFORMATION AND THE TRUTH!!!

      • Lee Marks

        This same argument is used by child molesters by the way. They rationalize that not only is it ok for kids to see sex, by why not experience it? (Note the high number of molesters who also got to ‘experience it’ when they were kids..) If you believe that you can expose children to anything as long as you explain it and ‘create a context’ I think you are mistaken. But perhaps it’s best to move your family to a place where sexuality is open in the public realm. And since everyone ‘understands it’ in a way that apparently is true (good luck with that common definition,) then you can be assured everyone will be on the same page about it.

      • C Katz

        Nancy French, I want to commend you for having the courage to speak your mind. Still, as someone who believes that you are more wrong than right, I want to try to explain calmly and politely why I think you are in error. Finally, I want to say how embarrassing and counterproductive it is that many people who are on “my” side are acting in such a cruel, derisive, childish, and mean way to you. This is no way to act.

        I think that putting that display in Books-a-Million is gross; it’s in poor taste. But your comparison of what you were leading your son towards (Civil War History) with what he had to pass by (soft-core pornography) actually makes the OPPOSITE point of what you conclude in your argument.

        Let’s think about the Civil War. Its fundamental but not sole cause was human chattel slavery. In a large swathe of our nation, human beings were bought and sold, exploited and abused, forcibly separated from their families and hunted and captured if they tried to escape their masters. This ultimately led to the misnamed “Civil” War (aka War between the States) where 600,000 Americans met their deaths. There were entire families wiped out; there were brothers who fought on different sides; there were many men who were badly injured and long-suffering with only the most primitive treatment and medical care.

        Slavery, insurrection, blood-soaked battlefields, decimated families, cities burned, and a nation torn asunder: all of this, Mrs. French, you categorize as both “Not Obscene” and “Fit for Children.” (Sorry for seemingly random capitalization.

        Now, let’s think about the offensive display. We’re talking about consensual sex between adults being foisted unwittingly on a surprised audience some of whom are children. Consequences of such sexual hedonism include (possibly fatal) diseases, pregnancy, heart-break, potentially offending God.

        What can I say? I think that the commercial sale and simple ownership of human beings combined with the conflagration of murders on a mass scale that we euphemistically call “war” is more offensive than sexual promiscuity that was grossly displayed.

        It sounds as if you are more offended by the former than the latter.

      • C Katz

        This was extremely well-articulated.

        Hooray for civil dialogue! And huzzah for reasoned rather than fear-inspired responses to everyday life!

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  • Jada in GA

    I am glad to send Books a Million a nice email this morning, questioning their marketing dept! I have 3 kids so obviously I’m not a prude either, but I’m not ready to explain the finer points of sex to the kids just yet! :( And anyway, what does sex have to do with the Civil war?? :)

    • http://www.NancyFrench.com Nancy French

      Jada, thanks! I got back a form letter. So I might call back today.

  • Jada in GA

    I LOVE IT!! I just tried to click on your link of the book you couldn’t show, and my Malwarebytes blocked me!! HA HA Coincidence? I’ll just take your word for it!

  • Jada in GA

    One last post: Here’s my email. We must stand up when the need arises!

    Books a Million,
    I love your stores and love to take my kids shopping for a new book as a reward for good grades, etc., but I’m afraid I’ll have to go to Barnes and Noble for a while.

    The reason? Your “Sexuality” book display is tasteless at best, pornographic at worst. Why not throw a Hustler magazine in for good measure? Since I have 3 kids, it stands to reason that I’m not a prude (or at least I’ve had sex a minimum of 3 times LOL), but this was just too tacky for words. I have enough trouble explaining sex to my tweenager in simple terms, so I’m not going to risk her seeing this and asking me the finer points of oral sex and what level of orgasm she should be aiming for later in life.

    Please reconsider this display and tone it down! Your store is for families and I shouldn’t have to be worrying about the book around the corner from the kids’ section. If I want a good sex book, I’ll find it easy enough. Shame on Books a Million…you’ve cheapened your brand and I question your demographic audience…which up until now, I thought was my entire family!

    I look forward to hearing back from you soon!
    Sincerely,
    Jada Edwards

    • http://www.NancyFrench.com Nancy French

      AWESOME!

    • Jim Pillory

      I promise that your child knows whatever he or she needs to from the internet. Also, Books a Million DOES sell Hustler and other full frontal pornography in its magazine section

  • Bob

    big deal. americans are ok with bloody violence, but sex bothers you?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat/ The Crescat

      No Americans are not OK with bloody violence being viewed by children, hence TV and movie ratings.

    • http://www.catholicfictionwritingchick.blogspot.com Janny

      …people don’t get addicted to bloody violence in the numbers they get addicted to pornography. And I don’t even have to be a psychologist to know that. Quit pulling out the “apples and oranges” nonsense. It never did wash, and it doesn’t now. But BAM could stand a little “washing” of their concept of family-friendly merchandising!

      • kenneth

        People don’t get addicted to bloody violence? Our nation’s homicide rate is up there with that of third-world slums and war zones. A 10-year old kid watching prime time network TV will have seen more graphic murders, decapitations etc. than most professional military and police would have seen in real life in past centuries.

        • Matt Roth

          There are much more complex reasons than violent media depictions regarding the US’s high murder rate in comparison to other developed countries; in fact, the evidence shows a sketchy correlation at best, but not causation.
          However, pornography is addicting, no question.

    • Jada in GA

      Nah, I’m not really into bloody violence….and I certainly won’t let my kids watch a bit of it…There is WAY too much craptastic TV and movies out there, no doubt!

    • Meggan

      I’m not ok with bloody violence. I have no problem with what was shown on the cover of those books either. It’s just not polite or decent to show that right smack in the middle of a store for everybody to see. There’s a place for everything.

    • Iza

      Amen! Women in movies being raped, violated, and killed violently are ok? Also, next time your children what to watch TV make sure that all the sex is out.( There goes almost all of TV nowadays) Next big thing that we will erase from the face of the earth do to people not wanting to face the truth is video games that have prostitutes being killed by people. (FYI Prostitution is the oldest profession in the world so yeah go to someone else’s country and tell them how to live their lives and feed there families)

  • Ed Ahlsen-Girard

    One reason that I was a little less sad at the bankruptcy of Borders than I might have been was remembering that in their big Tampa store they had the Gay/Lesbian section (including erotic fiction) next to Children.

    • http://www.NancyFrench.com Nancy French

      Classy move, Borders.

    • Robert Livingston

      OMG, there goes the neighborhood!!!

    • Scott Brown

      Because Gays and Lesbians are disgusting monsters that you have to hide from your children, right? Not people that have their own experience to write about and cater to. Heterosexist swine. And what harm comes from your kid knowing that sex exists at a young age. It is a beautiful thing created by God, and this Victorian attempt to cover it up is exactly what has created our hyper-sexualized culture. We should bask in sex as the natural and essential element of human life and relationship and then it wouldn’t become something teenagers are driven to do at a young age and go through lengths to hide their lives from their parents. It is attitudes like this that emulate the failed Prohibition, you are only fostering a mindset for your children to pursue sexual education without enlightened guidance from parents and other caring adults in clandestine environments like stolen porno rags and internet forums.

  • Oscar Jones

    I sent them the following:

    Gentlemen,

    Have you people lost your mind?

    If there is any truth in Nancy French’s posting about the book displays she saw in a Spring Hill, Tennessee store (and I see no reason to doubt her)
    then you as a corporation, your individual stores, and (in my opinion) the book publisher / author of these three books should be ashamed.

    We live in an increasingly crass culture that sexualizes children at earlier and earlier ages. Whether the cultural rot will prove fatal or whether we as a culture can recover is still up for debate.

    Years ago when I lived closer to one of your locations in Georgia I was a card carrying member of your chain. If this is an example of what you will do to sell books, then I will never join up again.

    Oscar Jones
    Atlanta, GA

    • http://www.NancyFrench.com Nancy French

      Thanks, Oscar!! I received a form response back. :(

    • Robert Livingston

      You get the “Oscar” Oscar! lol “Whether the cultural rot will prove fatal…”??? Relax, Bud. It’ll be O.K., you goofy fundamentalist paranoid!

    • Jay

      your fucking stupid, what the fuck is wrong with you bible thumpers

      • ds

        You’re, not your.

      • ken

        lol, if you’re going to call names at the bible thumpers with no actual basis for calling them stupid, please pretend to know what grammar is. You just make other non-bible thumpers look bad.

        • C Katz

          As a non-bible thumper myself, this guy EMBARRASSES me.

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    • Robert Livingston

      Calling the police!!!?!!!

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat/ The Crescat

    Being considered a prude is not necessarily a bad thing…

    1704, from Fr. prude “excessively prim or demure woman” (also an adjective), first recorded in Molière, from O.Fr. preude “good, virtuous, modest,” perhaps an ellipsis of preudefemme “a discreet, modest woman,” from O.Fr. prou de femme, fem. equivalent of prud-homme “a brave man” [see proud]

    • http://www.NancyFrench.com Nancy French

      I’ll own it.

      • Jim Pillory

        You should probably updated your blog post, then.

      • Jay

        Jesus Christ !!! would all you dumb ass woman back off. Im glad too see the store has the balls to display such a everyday part of life. Stop sheilding your kids and maybee they wont be the ones who get knocked up in high school. Very common here due to the dumb ass southern way. You god damn bible thumper. You had sex, thats how you got your children. Maybe if you read some of those books and learned a few things your husbands would not be cheating and wishing he had someone who knows what to do in the bed room. Get a life and find something better to do with your time. And no it does not violate any laws you dumb as Erin Manning, Has your stupid ass ever heard of something called the constitution. Funny though, All of you disgusting people would still have slaves if you could. But nothing sexual allowed. There is a special place in HELL for all you dumb ass hypocrites

        • ds

          Is a “maybee” something like a junebug?

          Get a life and find something better to do with your time.

          Excellent advice, I suggest we both try it.

        • Iza

          Thank you, I would have been nicer but all of the people that I know are seeing me type this are agreeing that children now are experimenting with sex due to lack of information and severe sheltering.

          • C Katz

            > “but all of the people that I know are seeing me type this are agreeing that”

            So I guess this counts as evidence now? Bad epistemology is obscene.

        • KLeAnneP

          Wow, Jay. There is a lot of hostility there. That’s a lot of heat coming from your words and a lot of defending of showing porn to 4 year olds. I can think of other parts of “everyday life” that has no business being shown on books for anyone to pass by. The writer was not suggesting she was unfamiliar with sex or that it was bad – only that such images are inappropriate for children. Something else must be going on with you for the article to hit such a nerve. None of her words deserved such a response.

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  • http://redcardigan.blogspot.com/ Erin Manning

    Here’s a question: has anyone considered contacting local law enforcement or a local lawyer to find out if Books-a-Million’s pornographic display in the “Sexuality” section of the store violates any of Tennessee’s laws against obscenity or indecency, or against harassment? There may be other laws too governing what materials can be displayed in public places where children are likely to be present (and a bookstore with a children’s section can’t use the argument that children aren’t welcome in the store).

    I know that these laws don’t tend to apply to shelved material that a child would have to remove from the shelf in order to see, but they might apply to material that is patently on display. As far as harassment, the key scenario might involve a female employee complaining that the openly-displayed sex books create a hostile work environment for her; one doesn’t take a bookstore job with the belief that one will be subjected daily to crude images of people engaging in copulation, after all, and there are all sorts of federal statutes about what can and can’t be displayed in the average workplace–I can’t see why bookstores would be exempt from those statutes.

    There are legal limits to the freedom of speech, and the open displaying of obscene or indecent images is one category of restricted speech. Would be interesting to know if this display at Books-a-Million is crossing any legal lines…

    • http://www.NancyFrench.com Nancy French

      Very good question. If only I knew I knew a good lawyer. Let me see if I can find one who will answer me!

    • Jim Pillory

      Books a Million has always been contradictory.

      They prominently display and make a lot of money off of their Christian books, bibles, and gifts, as well as their large kids section.

      They also sell books about how to grow marijuana and magic mushrooms, and stock a lot of pornographic magazines, books, and graphic novels.

      Again, the brick and mortar retail business is dying, and it’s not because parents are horrified by the sexuality section. Give it some time and you won’t have to worry about bookstores at all.

    • C Katz

      Okay, this is just a call for censorship. You want to use the GOVERNMENT to impose YOUR morals on OTHER PEOPLE’s PRIVATE BUSINESSES.

      If you continue to play with fire, you will get burned. One day when the PC police try to force your pastor two men to each other in homosexual wedded bliss, no one will be ready to defend your rights.

      Let me say this plainly: you are being a legal bully in this request. You should be ashamed.

  • http://www.patheos.com Amy

    Are there any conscientious objection laws protecting the employees?

    • http://www.NancyFrench.com Nancy French

      Good question — If I worked there, I think I’d try to obscure those books. I wouldn’t let kids — or anything — come across those unless they were looking for them.

  • Kevin

    Bam gets away with this kind of merchandising by claiming these are “educational” or “art” books. I should know, I used to manage one of their stores. The company is run by individuals with very loose morals and as such they put the same kind of individuals into their positions of management. All of your emails and calls end up on a report at the end of the week that the managers sit in the back and read and occasionally laugh at. Most of you who have gotten a form letter have probably read their token statement that it is not their intention to offend anyone and they seek to obey all local laws and blah blah blah. Trust me, they don’t care. BAM isn’t the friendly hometown local bookstore they want people to think they are. If you want to really show your dissatisfaction with BAM then do not buy their discount card or if you have one return it. That is the only thing keeping them in business right now.

    • http://www.NancyFrench.com Nancy French

      Kevin,

      Thanks for the scoop! I am SURE they don’t really care. I flipped those books over, but I heard from someone who went in there today that they are all up again in plain sight. So… How does returning my card hurt them?

      Thanks for the tip –

      Maybe they’ll surprise us and respond well! I hope so because we don’t have a book store in my hometown and I actually love that store.

    • Jay

      fucking jack ass, stop feeding into this bull shit

      • Don Parnell

        Jay, your cursing and anger have convinced me to completely change my ways. Thanks for the enlightenment!

        • C Katz

          As an atheist who tries to be polite, I get completely embarrassed by people like this.

          I really WANT other people to be atheists. Treating other people poorly completely undermines what I’m trying to do.

  • Catholic Dad

    There is so much to say here, but one thing that bothers me is the insinuation that it’s ok to have the display near an area frequented mostly by men. Though one might never know it based on pop culture, there are still American men who don’t like bloody violence (thanks for the stereotype there, bob, in your comment above) and who find pornography repugnant and offensive. It’s not a matter of being prude or not enjoying sex. Rather, it’s simply a matter of common sense, decency, and propriety.

    • http://www.NancyFrench.com Nancy French

      Catholic Dad,

      Thanks for the comment. I am waiting to hear back from the corporation, but appreciate your thoughts.

      Nancy

    • Jay

      let it all alone, its all a part of everyday life

  • Kevin

    BAM lives and breathes their discount cards. Without them they would have no advantage in their market. They force managers to threaten the associates with termination if hey don’t make a certain goal. The twenty dollars spent on the card is pure profit for them. They honestly don’t care whether they sell books or not, only the discount card and in the last few years their magazines for millionaires program. As for the pornographic books, they do indeed get paid by the publishers of those books to keep those specific titles on display, so they are making money whether anyone buys thm or not. In fact next time you see a display like that, they’re called “top shelves”, check behind the books on the shelf and you will find the complete list of he books that they want up there. This also is true for their magazines. There were many times that BAM would promininently display pro marijuana magazines such as High Times or homosexual lifestyle magazines on their showboards because they had been paid to do so. My BAM was located in a small conservative town and this did not go over well with our clientele. I substituted the titles one time and was reprimanded for doing so. BAM hass lot of dirty laundry they would rather the public did not know.

  • fiestamom

    If anyone reading this uses Twitter, that might be a good way to get their attention. @Booksamillion. Is @booksamillion ok with #porn? And a link back to this page. Just sayin’

    • http://www.NancyFrench.com Nancy French

      Fiesta Mom — Great idea! I just tweeted:

      @booksamillion ok with #porn near the kids’ section? The one in Spring Hill, Tennessee is! Please RT 2 fight indecency: http://ow.ly/aV4AM

  • Brett

    Another decade or two, and these books might be part of the elementary school curriculum.
    I live about 100 miles from you, and 1 of the 3 BAM in my city closed recently. There is a Barnes & Noble not far away. The BAM here always seemed more like a closeout/discount bookstore to me.

  • LoneThinker

    Sounds as if BAM has its bases covered, paid to portray as dictated, forces associates to sell cards, and writes blah blah in form letters.Sounds as if outright organised boycott is the answer. I no longer live in the USA but would start one. Did that once for a Christian Bookstore whose manager was bitterly anti-Catholic in a dominantly Catholic small city.
    #

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  • Robin Roberts

    I just read the article in The Tennessean about your recent experience in Books a Million. I too had a similiar experience around Valentine’s Day in Books A Million in Mt. Juliet. Several copies of the 365 Sex Positions were placed on a “Valentine” table – 2nd one in from the main door – at waist level. I spoke to the Manager who advised me it was a corporate decision and gave me a 1-800 number. I immediately attempted to contact the Corporate office, but was unsuccessful. Needless to say, that display was shocking, especially to be at waist level and close to the front door. I too am a fan of Books A Million, but disappointed in decisions to display material that is inappropriate for children in areas where children frequently browse the various books displayed on “themed” tables.

    • http://www.NancyFrench.com Nancy French

      Oh my goodness, Robin! That is even more terrible than the display I saw! Thanks for the information.

    • ds

      I think that guy on the sex positions book is just giving her a massage. I mean, she practically looks like she’s asleep.

      • ds

        Or they could be doing my wife’s favorite position, “the possum”: she feigns sleep until I lose interest.

  • Robert Livingston

    Oh, Ms. French, we (ALL faiths, politics and cultures) are all in America and on the planet together, remember!?! Open your eyes (if you are able) and look around beyond the relatively small plot of earth America, and your hokie little community, occupies! Your sadly ethnocentrically-narrow view of America and the world may play well to otherwise uneducated and not-well-travelled locals, BUT you do a dis-service to mankind! Shame on you! Because, I think, deep down, you know (or at least suspect) better! Please try with whatever intellectual capacity and self discipline you can muster to limit these kinds of “OMG” rantings to your family, friends and Sunday School mates. OR, get out and widen your horizons – open your mind! However, I fear you think you’ve already done that!

  • Delores

    If you think that your 13 year-old doesn’t know about sex, then you obviously home school and severely limit their social interaction! God made the human form and it is quite beautiful in both the male and female forms. Man/Woman are the ones who make sex something dirty.

    I’m curious as to how you answer questions about sex that your children ask. Or do you give them the cabbage leave and birds and bees version?

    Censorship is censorship no matter what the form and you are advocating censorship. Is book burning next?

    • http://www.NancyFrench.com Nancy French

      Dear Delores, I haven’t gotten around to planning my next book burning — was thinking of waiting til the fall to take advantage of the crisper weather.

      I know my 13 year old knows about sex. So does my 11 year old. My 4 year old I’m working on her ABC’s first. Then, who knows? Maybe I can teach her numbers by using the 365 Sexual Positions book.

      I’m not advocating censorship, which is when the government controls your speech. I’m advocating common sense.

      • David French

        Nancy, you need to listen to Delores. She’s full of wisdom. After all — and as Delores knows — the choice is ignorant, redneck home-schooling (with a little book-burnin’ thrown in! hopefully right outside our double-wide so we can cook some chitlins by the fire!) or soft-core porn. There is no in-between. There is porn or there is ignorance. You make the choice.

      • KLeAnneP

        I like your reply, Mrs. French. For someone to think the two choices are either “sex is BAD!” or “let’s teach our four-year olds about it in graphic detail” is unsettling. People can have their individual opinions on pornography, which I don’t think was even your purpose here. However, to think such images are appropriate for children scares me a bit!

  • Matt Jamison

    Thank you for pursuing this. One of the things that is so depressing is how this clueless corporation micromanages its local employees. The local store manager should have the authority to address your concern immediately without pressure from above; the corporation should be sensitive to the fact that what might be acceptable on a store display in San Francisco might not be okay in Tennessee. These days, no brick-and-mortar bookseller has the freedom to offend the values of its loyal customers. I think the comeuppance from the free market will be fast and deadly for Books-a-Million, even without a boycott.

  • Jim Lassiter

    first of all Nancy…. turn around and walk out… if you dont like what you see…. You have a choice…. this is a perfect example of what you right wing people are doing….. you expecct everyone to follow YOUR moral and values… to think like YOU do…. Not everyone does… I think it is weird that you didnt expect to find a “sexuality” section in Books a Million… You state you love the bookstore… ive been going to one for 20 years… the “sexuality” section has always been there…. Get over it… we dont all follow what you evangelicals believe it….

    • Tiff

      Jim, the Supreme Court has already ruled on this type of issue and Nancy is correct:

      The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that it is lawful to censor obscene entertainment to safeguard children from pornography and to protect adults from unknowingly or involuntarily viewing indecent materials (Ginsberg v. New York, 390 U.S. 629, 88 S. Ct. 1274, 20 L. Ed. 2d 195 [1968]).

      She did walk out of the store, but not before she had to see it first. When you have small children (which I’m assuming you have none) this is the sort of thing that is completely inappropriate for people below a certain age. That’s why certain stores have requirements of “over 18″. Last time I checked, BAM is not one of those stores.

      • http://www.withouthavingseen.com Ryan Haber

        Whoa! We aren’t even talking about censorship. Pet peeve on discussions of the First Amendment: when people equate censorship with businesses, libraries, and school boards making their own decisions about how they want to manage their own affairs in response to their costumers’/constituents’ concerns. The two are unrelated. Obviously, a bookstore cannot put every book on the front shelf, nor can it carry every book. Why should it have to take into consideration only who is willing to pay it to carry books? Why is it censorship for a bookstore to also be allowed to take into consideration who is paying to buy the books? Where I come from, that’s called customer service, or responding to customer concerns. Businesses that are bad at it tend to lose out. That’s economic freedom and the ballot box of the pocketbook.

      • KLeAnneP

        Excellent, Tiff. “…safeguard children from pornography and to protect adults from unknowingly or involuntarily viewing indecent materials.” I think that’s the heart of this. She’s not saying sex is bad like so many commenters seem to think. I am really having a hard time grasping why people are baffled at a mom not wanting her four year-old to see an image like the one shown in her link! If the mom found the book in her 18 year old’s apartment and was upset about it, that’s a different story. It is NOT crazy for a mom to want to be the one to teach their children about sex and not use a book intended for adults to do it! So what if they can find worse on the internet. A lot of parents have safeguards for that, too.

  • George

    This is a terrible decision by their management. I can understand they doing it to stay alive in this ecommerce age but this is common sense gone really bad. They certainly will lose my business and another reason to wow Amazon though they will start charging taxes soon. If they were to dare doing that in any muslim country, all of their stores will be burned down over night.

  • Tiff

    I sent them an E-mail yesterday and this was the response I received today:

    We appreciate your input on this matter and that you took the time to contact us with your concerns.
    It is not our intent to offend any of our customers with any product that is sold in the store. Books A Million offers a large selection of titles on various topics so that we may provide selections of interest to all ages. We value our customers and consider it a privilege to serve our stores communities. We wanted to let you know that we have taken action to respond positively to your concerns. We are removing the top shelf presentation and ensuring that no graphic covers are front-faced within the Personal Growth section.

    Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.
    Best regards,

  • Jim Pillory

    Don’t worry, within the next 10 years, bookstores will go the way of Video rental stores.

    Very soon, your children will be free of the corrupting influence of Books a Million and be spared the exposure of anything remotely sexual.

    That is, as long as you don’t ever let them use a computer…
    Or attend a public or private school…
    Or join a pee wee sports team…

    Really, just as long as you keep them from doing anything without a parental supervisor present, they should reach their 18th birthday well prepared and well adjusted.

    • http://www.withouthavingseen.com Ryan Haber

      Wow! People really make great strawmen arguments around here. Rather than argue with Ms. French’s desire to shield her four-year old from graphic sexual images, we are going to argue that she somehow opposes pee wee sports and wants them to have no knowledge of sex.

      Sure, that’s exactly how I read her article.

      Not.

      • http://www.NancyFrench.com Nancy French

        :)

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  • Mealnie

    Ms. French, it is YOUR responsibility to teach your kids about sex in the way that you see fit. It is not society’s responsibility to sanitize every place you and your children might go ever in your lives. The section was clearly labeled, and the publishers paid for the location and display of their books. That is fair as fair can be, whether you agree with it or not.

    Kids will be exposed to sexuality everywhere, be it blatant or subtle. It is your job as a parent to instill morals of which you approve so that they know how to deal with this. Sex is a very natural (and enjoyable, might I add!) part of human nature, and there is no way to avoid it. Again, I will stress that it is YOUR JOB as a parent to address this as you see fit with your kids. Not addressing it at all until it is too late is, frankly, doing your children a disservice.

    Just my two cents, but children should NEVER be ashamed of their own bodies. They should know that their bodies are their own and private and no one should be allowed to touch them or hurt them, but they should absolutely know the correct names for all of their parts, and, as they age, should know what those parts are for…all explained in age-appropriate ways.

    But…let me state one last time…it is YOUR JOB AS A PARENT to teach your children about sex and sexuality and the human body in a way in which you approve. (I guess in your case…to run screaming for an adult any time any allusions to sex are made.)

    • http://www.NancyFrench.com Nancy French

      Melanie – ha! You apparently are not familiar with the word “allusion.” This is was allusion to sexuality. It was a photo of two people having sex.

      So you think I should “teach your children about sex and sexuality and the human body in a way in which you approve?”

      We agree then! Thanks for the parenting advice!

      • Iza

        How do you know that they were engaged in sexual activity. Do you literally see his penis in her or her breast of vagina? I believe that your observation was untrue. I have seen these book covers and there was not any indecency.

    • Iza

      I agree with you to the fullest!

  • Katie Angel

    Now I am gladder than ever that I have been a Barnes and Noble loyal shopper for almost 20 years. So far, they haven’t had this sort of thing on display. The books are all tucked into the sexuality section shelves where those who want to see them can but not where the unwary will be blindsided. I think I have been in a BAM once in my life – to grab a book I knew had come out that day and I couldn’t wait to read – and I wasn’t that impressed. I am so sorry you were subjected to something like this and I hope that you have a B&N nearby so you can continue to support a local bookstore.

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  • James

    Anyone who writes a positive book about anyone in the Palin family does not set themselves up as a paragon of “common sense.”

  • Curtis

    So, are you going to write a letter about similarly suggestion language and positions used on prime-time cable and broadcast TV every day? And are you going to write a letter about similarly suggestive language and images, and even much worse, that your kids are going to find on the internet every day? Or are you going to stop writing so many letters and start raising your kids with the skills they need to live in our world?

  • http://gabrielgadfly.com Gabriel Gadfly

    This seems like a really good lesson in how to teach your children that sex is wrong.

  • Joriece

    This from a co-writer of Bristol Palin’s autobiography? Really? The walking poster child for teenage, under-age, un-protected, un-married SEX! Some people just have no morals or values whatsoever!

    I’d love to chat longer but I must dash out to my local books a million and spends wads of cash supporting them for have sexuality books in the sexuality department! Oh, and I think I’ll send a supportive email to the CEO while I’m at it.

    • http://www.withouthavingseen.com Ryan Haber

      Serious? So-called “Liberals” are still caught up in an outmoded puritanical moral backwardness. There is something fiendish going on when a girl is liberated for having sex, but a whore for having a child. How does that sort of stigma help young women make good reproductive choices, lol, if that’s your concern?

    • KLeAnneP

      Don’t forget she’s also the poster child for forgiveness and second chances. I feel badly for people who seem to think a mistake means a person is out in the gutter. I also think you’ve missed the point of the article. I don’t think the concern was that Books-a-Million sells these books. It sounds to me the issue is that the covers are easily visible by children. The author is not saying sex is wrong (obviously not if she has children!) but that perhaps she doesn’t feel her four-, eleven- or thirteen- year old children are an appropriate audience for graphic photos. Seriously, would you feel it was okay if a mother showed her four-year-old a Playboy?

      • robert

        “Don’t forget she’s also the poster child for forgiveness and second chances. I feel badly for people who seem to think a mistake means a person is out in the gutter.”

        I mean no disrespect what so ever but you have not been a member of the American Religion for very long or you have been very very lucky. If there is one thing I have learned it is a true Christian does not make mistakes, show any type of need and above all is totally autonomous. It really is a strange religion considering its founders view, but I have learned he is rather irrelevant, which is also sad.

  • Rob

    This censorship thing is getting ridiculous. How dare they have books about sexuality in the sexuality section. Feel free to hide the natural act from your kids or teach them abstinence, which worked well for Bristol Palin I’m sure, but don’t put your hangups on me or my kids. Stop trying to be the thought police and stick to your own crappy books please.

    • http://www.withouthavingseen.com Ryan Haber

      Hey Rob, nobody’s trying to be the thought police.

      Firstly: you are equating obscenity with thought or ideas. That’s a stretch.

      Secondly: consumers are entitled to interact with retailers as they see fit. If a consumer doesn’t like a business practice of a retailer, say, using child labor in developing countries, then the consumer is entitled – perhaps obliged – to cause a ruckus, raise a boycott, write letters, etc.

      Thirdly: it’s kinda weird how over-sexualized people love to hate the Palins. Leave ‘em alone already. They would be a non-story by now, if you people would let them.

  • http://www.withouthavingseen.com Ryan Haber

    Brick-and-mortar bookstores are businesses like any other. They do business the same way any other business does them, and are a blend of the mainstream media industrial establishment and franchise establishments, both of which have aggressively sexualized in the last 20-30 yrs. I am much more interested in the long term history of books than of bookstores. In fact, the sentimentality over bookstores has me as flummoxed as the sentimentality over newspapers. They are going the way of the dodo because they are about as wise as dodos.

  • dan

    eww eww sex is dirty. We must protect the children at all cost or they may all go homo!

  • Kim

    Nancy, you are spot on with your observations and comments. As a fellow Bible-thumper and Puritan (and I homeschool, too!), I am just as shocked at BAM…and I am “baffled” (kudos to the commentor who used that word) that people are taking issue with your shock. Who would think that the picture ( and I saw it on YOUR phone, before you put the covering on it) is appropriate for children of any age? And as for having the section on the Military History aisle where “only men would be” does not comfort me at all. I don’t want my husband spending time fantasizing about that skinny, beautiful woman on the cover when all he has for his arms is my un-skinny, slightly saggy and more than flabby 43 year old body? No thank you. And I DEFINITELY don’t want my 13 year old boys to have that image imprinted on their brains for the rest of their lives. I know way too many men – and women, for that matter – who are addicted to porn and it’s ruining their professional, personal and marital lives.

    I know, I know….the Internet, TV and movies are going to show it….they are going to be exposed to it at some point….BUT…they will be exposed to it on OUR terms. Because contrary to what others say, our kids are trustworthy. They really, truly DON’T watch stuff they are not supposed to when we are not here; they choose their music wisely and their iPods must be turned over on demand, without warning, for us to check; and they have a relationship with Christ that – even if or when they did do any of that stuff – would bring them under such conviction that they wouldn’t be able to hide it from us. All computers are out in plain view. We have parental controls on channels and websites. And we have talked to them about the “birds and bees” as well as the pleasure side of sex in marriage. Not details, mind you, but the subject is definitely not taboo in our home. We want them to see that it is OK to enjoy each other within the confines of marriage…and not to be afraid to express their sexuality in that way, when the time comes for them to have their own wife and family.

    So. I say all of that to say this…Regardless of your religion or non-religion. Regardless of whether your children attend school publicly or at your dining room table. Regardless of whether you are young or old, have kids or not, or are gay or straight. The display was inappropriate. It was offensive. And it was an unwise decision on the part of BAM. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.

    Kim Scruggs
    Mt. Pleasant, TN

    • TimPundit

      If you are worried about your husband breaking up with you over him watching “porn” , then you’re marriage is on the rocks anyway and probably isn’t going to last much longer.

      A strong marriage can get thru anything, especially something as dumb as naked pictures. Grow up, act like an adult and find out what is really wrong with your marriage.

  • Robin

    I laughed outloud when I read that someone would actually go to the trouble to not just complain to the store but the corporate office about this. YOU WERE IN THE SEXUALITY AISLE FOR PETES SAKE! If you don’t think that your kids look at this type of thing at school, on tv, the internet then you really need to wake up from your dream. Yes I understand that it was near a History section but bloody images from the Civil War I would think would be alot more disturbing than a book about sex. If you try to shield kids or turn them against something what happens….they want to learn more, thats human nature. Remember when Tipper Gore tried that with music in the 80′s? What happened? Everything with a label that indicated that it was explicit flew off shelves. Had she kept her mouth shut no one would care one way or the other what the lyrics said. Kids will learn about it one way or another so why not give them a postitive image of it and not something that is wrong. Its better than them coming to you once they are pregnant and confused about what to do, face the facts, sex is everywhere and it can’t be avoided, its how the parents approach it and their values that they place in their children that matters. Teach them that its a healthy act and not something wrong or shameful. We were all kids once ourselves and trust me , if you want to learn about something whether Mom and Dad are around of not, you will find a way to. Thats whats wrong with society today and women in general. There is a double standard, men can talk and think about it and women aren’t supposed to but newsflash, its human nature to do so, don’t fight our natural instincts. Its not porn and they weren’t in a Hustler store and they will know all about it with or without your making them avoid looking at it. Also, the employees of BAM set up the store displays per the direction of the corporate office. Berating a bunch of store employees for how the store is arranged is useless and obviously the corporate office has bigger fish to fry than worry about one person’s opinion. This falls under Freedom of Speech as well as Freedom of the Press, if you don’t like it don’t look at it.

  • http://www.calicodreams.net Mary Kelso

    I’m amazed at these comments. Really amazed at the amount of people who think it’s okay for kids to view sex this way.
    Yep, I AM a proud Bible thumper and I love what it’s Words have done for me and for my family. Here’s the thing. Inside that Bible it talks a LOT about sex. It gives us guidelines for it, it gives us inspiration for it, and even lets us know that it’s a God ordained, beautiful, worshipful experience. God made it, designed it and He doesn’t turn His head when we’re DOING IT. And WE ARE DOING IT.
    So, what’s our problem? Our problem is that we like to keep it within those guidelines because we KNOW that God’s Word is true. We know that when it’s taken out of the guidelines it loses something. And we like our sex to be full of everything we can get out of it.
    In the Bible Jesus Christ tells us that if we look at a woman to lust after her it is the same as committing adultery. I think most of you would agree, adultery is not right. So, when you put sexually provocative images in front of kids, you are giving them their first taste of adultery. Porn and adultery go hand in hand and both are breaking up marriages, producing single parent families and creating financial and emotional stress on people EVERY DAY.
    So, if you don’t like the fact that people have a problem with kids viewing sex, take it up with Jesus. But I warn you…His Dad is bigger than your Dad.

    • TimPundit

      No, my Dad is real. And Jesus’s dad is dead.

      And porn doesn’t break up marriages…divorce does. A marriage can only be broken up by porn if the marriage was going to break up anyway.

      • Robin

        Thank you! In my opinion the ones against it are the ones not enjoying it enough themselves to open up their minds to any kind of porn or erotica which is neither degrading or vile to women. The participants choose to be there and choose to do that for a living so we also can choose to watch or read or whatever but a few frigid non-freak flag flying religious zealouts don’t need to tell the rest of us what to do or what is available to enjoy at our leisure.

  • DMB62476

    Typical Christian marching orders…
    Externalize your personal responsibility.
    Feel ashamed of as many aspects of your humanity as you possibly can.
    Continue to actively dismantle autonomy as a perceived virtue.
    Loudly spout exhalted proclamations of faith.
    Invent then insert “sin” into situations where your subjective morals cannot reach.
    Never rest until your ideals of theocratic utopia are realized by all.

  • TimPundit

    Typical ass-backery hypocrisy form typical prudish old ladies.

    It’s fine for the kids to see violent images about war, but if a book suggests the act of making love, frigid old ladies throw a frigid old fit.

    Get a real job. Or at least the hobby so you don’t have time to butt in to everyone else’s business.

    • Robin

      Amen Tim! Its frigid women like that whose husbands end up cheating on them for as we all know what you won’t do in the bedroom with a man or to him someone else will and yes I am a woman. I also agree that violen images are more disturbing to a child than one of sex.

  • Bert Woodall

    Thanks for the inspiration. I emailed Books-A-Million to reassure them that I, along with most people–and most readers in particular–do not agree with fostering sexual neuroses and view the role of bookstores as making knowledge available.

    I congratulate Books-A-Million on their wholesome attitude and community based business model. Zoning for stupid is best left to the stupid themselves.

  • stacy

    you are courageous and following through on what others would choose to do means multitudes for the passion that risks it all!! thank you–stacy

  • robert

    Ms. French I do hope you and your family are doing well. In a way I relate to your perspective considering inappropriate material displayed in areas where young children may be exposed to it. I can say I have seen the same thing in churches, where young children are exposed to some aspects of the Christian religion. For example one missionary / pastor spoke to a congregation in which children were present and discussed about how utterly depraved and evil human beings are. That humans are evil from birth and cursed by God as children of wrath and haters of God. I find these words, spoken as if they were the words of God, very pornographic. Because the parents of these children hold such teachings in high regard the child is more impacted with such messages. This pastor spoke about if a two year old child had the strength of an 18 year old man that that child would beat his father to a bloody pulp and walk across his dead corpse take the pretty watch with no remorse. Loose translation, of course most adults can understand how psychotic such rhetoric is but to some people trapped is such thinking a child caught is such a situation are very damaged by such views of the human condition.
    Another preacher went on about how “selfish” children are, well of course they are, and that is how we develop. Children are not robots nor are they adults. The same desire that you seem to have to keep children from harmful material is why I bring this up, this type of teaching is extremely damaging to children. I can understand the theological constructs of “the fall” but what we have learned of biology and the development of the human species we understand that there was no literal inbred “sin” that comes into us at birth. I do not deny the fall in a theological construct but that is an entirely different post.
    On the other hand I have seen preachers tell children with disabilities that they were not healed because them or their parents did not have enough or the right kind of faith. If one takes a simple look at the tv this plays itself out daily. I see that to as pornographic. Also some people took their young children to see Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ”. Um I can’t even describe what is wrong with that. But I am sure you can see my point even if you disagree with it.
    I do wish you and your family the very best.

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