My Channel 2 News Segment: Books-a-Million Listens to Customer Complaints

Thank you, Channel 2 News here in Nashville for following this story! And thank you, Books-a-Million, for listening and changing that aisle!


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Books-A-Million Listens to Concerned Shoppers and Changes Its Sexuality Display!

How rarely do things in life work out this well?

As I mentioned, on Friday I was doing some pre-Mother’s Day shopping with the kids when I noticed a graphic photo of people having sex on the cover of a book.  Yes, the book was about various sexual positions, but it was right out there for the entire world to see.  The photo wasn’t suggestive, it was completely showing two naked people having sex.  I promptly turned over the book and told the staff that someone had apparently played a prank on them near the military history.

“The books in that section are exactly as we arranged them,” they explained to me.

After I called the corporate headquarters — right there in the store — I came home and did what any concerned parent in the modern age might do.  I blogged.

When the post went live, it immediately began getting traction in the blogosphere.  Then, I suggested to my Twitter followers to Tweet the corporate headquarters to raise awareness.  You guys did just that!  Thank you!

News of the public outcry reached The Tennessean.

When they  reported on the blog – which had gotten a few thousand hits – it put even more pressure on the store. But the store still refused to remove or camouflage the offensive book covers.  Today, Channel Two News called for an interview, so I met them at the store.  When I arrived, I checked my e-mail and found a note from corporate headquarters.  It read:

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,

Jeanne Nelson

I was elated at the news.  After my interview with Channel 2 News (which will air tonight at 10:00), we walked through the “Sexuality” aisle and found that they had, in fact, kept their word and removed the books from the sight of shoppers.

Thank you, Books-a-Million corporate headquarters and Books-a-Million Spring Hill for helping parents protect themselves – and their children – from seeing these inappropriate images.

We appreciate your concern for your shoppers and for the community!


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The Tennessean Investigates Books-a-Million over Their Pornographic Sexuality Display


I was delighted that The Tennessean saw my blog post and did a little investigation themselves.  Apparently, the store in Spring Hill is not following corporate policy when they display pornographic images in full sight of children. (Think I’m overreacting?  This is just one cover — warning, obviously! — that my kids almost saw.)  The Tennessean went to other stores in Nashville and uncovered the fact that other stores did not have such sexual displays:

SPRING HILL, Tenn. — Author Nancy French had to do a little extra mothering on a pre-Mother’s Day shopping excursion to Books A Million in Spring Hill.

She was steering her children – ages 13, 11 and 4 – down the military history aisle when saw something that shocked her. She told them to freeze and turn around.

There, on a shelf labeled “Sexuality,” was the book 365 Sex Positions, complete with a cover photo featuring a nude couple demonstrating one.

Read the rest of Heidi Hall’s article here, and if you haven’t already called their corporate headquarters the number is 1-800-201-3550.

Also, here are some suggested Tweets:

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

Check out what sexual book covers @booksamillion believes is ok for kids to see: #porn

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    Graduates, It’s Not About You

    One morning not too long ago, I was doing my normal morning cruise through my favorite news websites when I came a story about a commencement speaker controversy at a Northeastern college.  There’s nothing remarkable about such controversies.  In fact, if a university doesn’t have a commencement speaker controversy, either the university chose one of the nine universally-popular people on the planet (Will Ferrell is one of them, I’ll leave it to you to figure out the other eight), or the students are just too (perpetually) hung over to care.  What caught my attention was the first line of the angry students’ Facebook page:  “Commencement was supposed to be about us.”

    “About us.”  Really?

    That single comment caused me to daydream… If I were ever asked to give a commencement speech, it would go something like this:

    Congratulations on your important, though modest, achievement.  Your graduation is important because it is — for all too many people in this country — considered a necessary prerequisite for full participation in our nation’s economic and cultural life.  This belief is misguided for a number of reasons — we significantly over-value economic advancement, stress education over hard work, and often go deeply into student loan debt which will handcuff us for decades.  But it is widespread nonetheless.  So your graduation is important.

    It’s also important for other, more virtuous reasons.  Many of you — though not all of you — worked hard during college, and I congratulate you for your hard work.  Many of you — though not all of you — made financial sacrifices to afford college, and I congratulate you for your thrift and far-sightedness.  A few of you — not many — achieved family dreams by being the first to graduate college, and I congratulate you for honoring the legacy of those who sacrificed and struggled before you.  Yes, your graduation is important.

    But make no mistake.  This achievement is modest.  Millions of Americans get a degree.   Go ahead and pop those champagne corks, but not for your uniqueness or talent, but rather to commemorate a rite of passage, for your lifelong connection with your college community, and for the satisfaction of a task completed.

    How should you think of yourselves on this day of important but modest achievement?  I’d propose you shouldn’t think much about yourself at all.  The richest life is not “about us” – it’s about others.  It’s about service — and not just the obvious service of volunteerism or charitable giving.  Some of the most unpleasant and self-righteous people I know give away quite a bit of money and ladle out more than their share of soup at the soup kitchen.  The best lives are lived by people who count others as better than themselves and place others’ needs above their own.  Every day.  Including this day.

    Who are you here with?  A father who worked long hours to afford your tuition check?  Honor him on this day.  A mother who struggled alone to provide for you and teach you how to live as an adult?  Honor her on this day.  Start a habit of turning “your” days into days to show kindness and respect for others and choose, day by day, moment by moment, to bless others rather than drain their emotional and sometimes financial resources through your own selfish demands.

    This is not a call for perfection but instead a request for a mindset — an attitude of proportionate humility that you carry with you every day of your life.

    I’ll never forget my law school graduation.  It was one of the best days of my life.  Literally, a top five day.  I had worked quite hard (though not nearly as hard as I would work in my first “real job”), I was graduating from Harvard  (that’ll make a person puff up with pride), and I was eager to take on the world as an idealistic young lawyer.

    My mother and father were there on a beautiful day, and so was my grandmother — a history teacher from rural Mississippi who began her career in a one-room schoolhouse.  She was widowed at a young age but picked up the pieces of her life, went to graduate school and then traveled much of the world in her quest to see and experience the places she’d long taught about. My earliest memories are of hours sitting by her side as she read from books about America’s past and present.  I love this country in no small part because she loved it so much.  I love learning because she loved learning.  And I love life because she loved life – and attacked it with courage and great joy.

    But despite this deep bond between us, for the vast majority of my graduation day, I felt – and acted — as if I was the center of my little universe, moving from friend to friend, laughing, talking about the last three years, and generally behaving as if my family were much-beloved baggage.

    After a whirlwind day filled with two commencement ceremonies (one university-wide, and one just for the law school), meals, and parties, we ended the day with on a boat cruise in Boston harbor.  I spent most of that cruise the same way I spent the day, hanging out with my friends.  But then, just as the night was about to end, I looked to the back of the boat and saw my grandmother, sitting alone and looking at the beautiful Boston skyline.  I was stricken by the sudden thought that I hadn’t spent time with her, and walked outside to sit beside her.

    “Nana, are you doing ok?”

    She was an amazing-looking woman, towering over others at almost 6 feet tall, a white head-full of hair, and enormous black glasses.  She looked at me, gave a big smile, and drawled, “David, just shoot me now, while I’m happy.”

    She was happy because her grandson was graduating from Harvard.  She was happy because we were celebrating in the historic city where our nation was born.  She was happy because it was a beautiful night.  She was happy because she was seeing the fruits of her love and labor in my own education.

    And I was happy because she was happy.

    Nana lived for a few more years, and we spoke often of that day in Boston — Nana’s day.  One of the best days.

    So, this commencement is not really “about you.”  In fact, no single day of your life will be solely “about you.”  Not even your birthday.  In 1998 my grandmother died, and a few months later, my daughter was born.  We named her Camille Ruth in honor of Nana, Ruth French, and hoped she’d have a little of Nana’s spunk and zest for life.  So far, so good.  For her ninth birthday, she showed she had Nana’s appreciation for history by asking to visit Benjamin Franklin’s print shop in Philadelphia.

    In other words, your life has been made possible (and inspired) by a host of people.  So, graduates, take this occasion to honor, encourage, and bless them on this, their day.

    And then prepare to do that every day, for the rest of your life.

    Writer’s note:  This post originally appeared in May 2010 on (before we joined the Patheos family), and was one of SixSeeds’ most-read posts.  I slightly updated for this graduation season.

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    No One Can Unite Evangelicals and Mormons Quite Like Barack Obama

    I must confess that I awoke this Monday morning feeling a bit useless — feeling very small and insignificant in fact.  Not that it’s a bad thing.  After all, in this graduation season if I could give one piece of advice to young and ambitious graduates it would be this: “Learn to get over yourself — and quickly.”  But still, it’s not necessarily fun to feel insignificant.

    Why did I feel like blowing off work, skipping even my shower, and just heading straight to my favorite video game to tune out the world?  Because last week Barack Obama accomplished more in about two minutes and thirteen seconds than I was able to accomplish in more than six years of continual effort.  Barack Obama united evangelicals and Mormons around Mitt Romney.

    In late 2005, I realized that Mitt Romney was not just an outstanding governor of Massachusetts and a man of character and integrity (that much was obvious), but he should also be President of the United States.  Starting in early 2006, Nancy and I did our best to try to make that happen — organizing straw polls, launching a website, giving money, writing a book, and generally talking to anyone who’d listen.  Our message was simple: Mitt Romney and evangelicals certainly have theological differences, but they share core values, and Mitt can be counted on to defend those values.

    Over time, our blog morphed just a bit and became a home for thoughtful Mormon-evangelical dialogue, and I treasure those conversations (in fact, that may ultimately prove to have been the highest and best purpose for our efforts).  At the same time, it sometimes felt like we were making zero headway with our fellow evangelicals.  In 2008, they flocked to a less-conservative Mike Huckabee rather than support Mitt.  And in 2012, southern evangelicals flocked to the less-conservative Rick Santorum.  Heck, at one point it even seemed like Newt Gingrich would sweep the evangelical vote.

    But Mitt hung on, kept fighting, and won enough evangelicals to win the nomination.  But what about the general election?  After months of opponents hammering Mitt for being “no different” from Obama, would evangelicals see reality?  And if so, would they see in time to make a difference?

    Now we know the answer.  It turns out that no one can draw distinctions better than President Obama.  We already knew that he was radically pro-abortion (after all, he refused to support the born-alive infant protection act), that he believes sexual liberty trumps religious liberty (see, for example, his HHS contraceptive mandates), and that some of his key supporters were contemptuous of stay-at-home moms, but last week he went all the way.  Last week he adopted the secular left social platform in its entirety when he endorsed gay marriage.  On life, religious liberty, and marriage, he is a firm “no.”  Mitt Romney is a firm “yes.”

    My work is done.  My mission is accomplished.  But I didn’t accomplish it.  Thank you, President Obama, for doing my job far, far better than I ever could.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some gaming to do.

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