Sunday, October 24, 2004


Bookstores In Solidarity With “The [Usual] Cause”

Considerations of media bias typically address issues of distortion and omission occurring on broadcast news and in the dominant coastal news publications. Less noted are the more subtle occurrences of bias that take place in a variety of other venues. For example, school textbooks, not to mention many classroom lessons in general, are often skewed to favor the left of center appraisal of history and current events. This is one of the reasons why the Reagan years are often described as an "age of greed" while the Clinton years were supposedly a period of "unprecedented prosperity" (an unbiased and sober analysis merely finds both of them to have been periods of economic growth).

A couple of decades ago one could barely find a bookstore that would promote the sale of a conservative tract. This was partly due to the fact that one could also barely find a publisher who would publish such views to begin with. Although significant inroads have occurred in publishing non-Leftist beliefs, some attempts at censorship continue to occur at the final end of the publishing industry -- the bookstores themselves.

A little over a month ago, when the anti-Kerry book, "Unfit for Command" was putting heat on the Kerry campaign, some bookstore union clones let it slip on their internet site exactly what their attitude was toward "free speech."

Even in far off (from the US) Japan, where I live, the pseudo-intellectuals of bookstore marketing, have taken their stand on the issue of fair exposure to alternate viewpoints.

I sent the following letter to the Kinokuniya bookstore chain in Japan to note my observations regarding their ordering and display of popular non-fiction books:


I'm an English speaking resident of Niigata, Japan. I often frequent your Niigata / Bandai location. My purchases are typically restricted to magazines. I've purchased a few books but when it comes to topical issues in society and politics you don't offer much of what I'm looking for.

There currently are, and have been, several best sellers that don't make it to your shelves. There's a prominently diplayed sign promoting Michael Moore's movie, "Fahrenheit 9/11," and there is typically a virtual shrine erected to Michael Moore's books along with Noam Chomsky, Al Franken, Molly Ivins etc. One could get the impression that whoever decides what books will be displayed in your store has a political stance they are trying to promote. There are numerous -- again, best sellers -- from the other side of the political spectrum that are noticeably absent in your store.

I recognize that you may be merely catering to a foreign clientele that is likely "left of center," but I'm not sure that such skewed choices in what to promote are good business or fair and honest appreciation for diverse viewpoints.

I realize that I could "special order" certain books but still wonder why I should need to do so for a book like "Unfit for Command" when a book like Michael Moore's "Stupid White Men" is readily available.

I'm puzzled as to what criterion are considered when seeking to offer options to your customers. On the surface it appears that there is a noticeable bias for left-of-center authors (in some cases far left of center).

I'll continue to purchase magazines from your Niigata store but If I have to "special order" best selling books I might as well continue to use

Your store is a pleasure to shop in but taking sides in political issues just isn't good business.


Cliff Gantos

I haven't received a response to my complaint yet. I think there is a fair chance that those responsible for the ordering and displaying in the English sections of this company's bookstores are English speaking and also likely to be from English speaking countries.

Of course, what I've experienced here is not unusual in the grand scheme of things. In major bookstore chains in America however, the profit motive (fortunately) has finally forced acknowledgment of a wider spectrum of reader's tastes and preferences. Difficult as it is for the Left in general to understand, not everyone agrees with them or should necessarily be compelled to. There have been numerous best sellers in recent years that counter the highly promoted nonsense of Michael Moore et al. Needless to say, the Left is not happy about this kind of free speech.

I seriously don't imagine some kind of conspiracy on the part of book company managers, after all, it's in their interest to sell a product. Further down the decision making ladder, however, one likely finds the usual rabble of holier than though Leftism, bravely fighting the evil forces of those who differ in worldview.

The Left will whine constantly of "censorship" and "oppression" from the supposedly dark forces of conservatism but who is the real tyrant here? Is it any surprise that those who favor strong central government authority also favor the manipulation of ideas made available to the public?

Leftism -- Hypocrisy, and enforced ideological compliance, from the classroom to the local bookstore. Same as it ever was.

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