Banned Book Donations Due to One Jail’s Unclear Policy Leads to New Lawsuit

One indie bookstore’s lawsuit in Georgia is leading against a local jail for rejecting book donations to inmates due to a vague policy. Read on to learn more.

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Bookstore with shelves of books on the left, a green divider in the middle, and books in boxes that are crossed out.

Since Avid Bookshop first opened its doors in 2011, they have done their due diligence to foster ethical business practices while focusing on the community, especially supporting local businesses where they can. As such, their support for the community, as well as the freedom to read, meant also mailing out books to an individual in jail. However, books sent were rejected by the jail due to an unclear policy, leading the bookstore to file a First Amendment lawsuit.

The Goals of Avid Bookshop

Avid Bookshop’s growth also stems from booksellers and staff continuing to grow. Upon reviewing their website, they highlight that:

Avid Bookshop is an ethically run business with a strong focus on community engagement. We continually challenge ourselves, trying to figure out creative ways to make our city better through our #avidgivesback and #avidinschools initiatives, activism, authorless events, book fairs, free author readings, partnerships, book clubs, and more.

Avid Bookshop

Giving back to the community is at the core of Avid Bookshop, and being able to send books to inmates is just one way they have tried to support the community, especially since this was at the request of customers.

Policy Issues

There were two attempts made to try and send books to the Gwinnett County Jail, the latter attempt coming from Avid Bookshop directly, yet both attempts were denied. According to the jail’s policy, they do not accept EBAY or Amazon independent sellers’ packages but will accept magazines and books directly from the publisher or an authorized retailer.

One deputy states that the jail would not accept donations coming from the local bookstore in case contraband was added to it. However, in the case of Avid Bookshop, not having a clear definition of what an authorized retailer is — barring booksellers from sharing books — becomes government censorship. Philomena Polefrone, the Advocacy Associate Manager of the American Booksellers Association, says the actions of the jail are unfair and baseless, particularly since Gwinnett County Jail does allow larger retailers like Amazon to send books.

The initial lawsuit was filed in March of this year, and while there have yet to be any major updates, Avid Bookshop continues with its business, making sure that its local community has access to books and resources.

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