Freedom and the Book

I've been thinking about power lately. And the kind of power that exists in book publishing. And our choices and what they mean to our freedom to read.

If you want to continue to have the freedom to read a paper book, you should actively buy one or go to the library and borrow one. If you believe libraries should have books available free to the public, you should use the library. If you believe discarded books should be shared and not sent to the landfill, you might want to start a Little Free Library or a Book Exchange. If you believe authors should be paid for their work, you should buy their books new. If you believe in brick-and-mortar bookstores, you should use them. Decisions about how books are created and sold are not made in the air; they are driven by our choices.

Those who moan about fate need to choose an area they care about and promote it in a way so that it is indispensable to users. Money drives a lot, but it doesn’t have to drive our spirit. We have to decide what we want as a culture, and instead of moving passively through life, we have to make decisions. In fact, we aren’t moving passively through life at all, we are constantly making decisions. And sometimes those decisions are to avoid making decisions, which always end up having consequences anyway. These are our freedoms.

The American Library Association promotes the freedom to read through Banned Books Week, among other activities. According to their website, parents are most often the challengers of books for these reasons (in descending order): sexually explicit; offensive language; unsuited for age group; other objections; occult/Satanism; violence; homosexuality, and so forth. In 2013 and 2012, the challenged book(s) at the top of the list was the series: Captain Underpants. While the ALA seems primarily concerned with the problems of censorship in its overt form, censorship is happening silently as certain companies reduce the availability of certain books and the purchasing of ebooks requires that you register or sign in, then agree not to copy or share them. An article by Richard Stallman called "The Right to Read" lists the issues that threaten our freedoms in detail. While you don’t have to stand and fight, you should at least know what is at stake.


Very thought-provoking post. Really, this applies to many things in life, not just books. What we do and where we spend money equates to a lot of power. Foe example, if you don't like the way WalMart puts American companies out of business, don't shop there. It seems very simple, but we all have more power than we think. If each person thought about this and did what their conscience tells them, the world would be a different place.