Booksellers: A Safe Space for Readers to Combat Against Banned Books

For book lovers, we’ve had enough of the book bans! Read on to learn about how two owners of White Rose Books & More fought the system!

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Owners of The White Rose Books Store and More on a cream background with scrap paper and illustrations of books

When you think of banned books, many immediately think of titles like 1984 by George Orwell or The Color Purple by Alice Walker. But why ban books? Many of these books are the result of patents and community insistence who believe in banning them based on the content of racial issues, sexual content or education, or encouragement of “damaging” lifestyles, etc. 

Despite this, there have been efforts to combat this epidemic of banning books through booksellers. One particular store is White Rose Books & More. Let’s take a look at their story and why they opened their doors. 

White Rose Books & More

In 2021, an individual named Erin Decker was a middle school librarian in Kissimmee, Florida. Frustrated by the state’s book bans, she felt her time as a librarian was coming to an end. How can someone make a difference with the state banning what she loved?

The owners, Erin Decker and Tania Galiñanes, standing next to their store White Rose Books & More.

Thinking all was pivoted, her fellow Librarian, Tania Galiñanes, tried their best to make the student’s freedom of expression available in a school setting, especially for their education. No matter the amount of school board meetings, interviewing the press, and speaking at the Board of Education meetings at a state level, they were at a breaking point in 2023. 

However, plan B for their careers was to create their own safe space, and they figured the best action to fight back was through making a bookstore named White Rose Books & More in March of 2023. The store was named for a resistance group in Nazi Germany dedicated to banned works who believed in intellectual freedom.  Decker says,

“We just put our heads together and decided a bookstore would help make sure students could get to books that were being pulled from shelves.” 

Books presented within the store.

White Rose Books & More opened to the public in mid-October 2023 and has been serving the public since. To this day, Tania and Erin continue to speak out against Florida’s actions due to the harm to students in Florida and to literacy. Their store serves as a reminder and safe-keeping to a community that will continue to be loved, cared for, and appreciated. 

Booksellers and Their Impact

Recently, in 2022-2023, there was a massive surge in banned books, a 33% increase from the previous school year. Books such as The Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Bluest Eye — and newer favorites like The Hate U Give and Thirteen Reasons Why. These bans target books with themes of race and racism, as well as books with LGBTQ characters.

Banned books in a Barnes and Nobles.

Groups like Moms for Liberty and LaVerana in the Library, parents uniting together, made a comprehensive list of books that contain what they claim to be “objectionable material.” 

With Decker’s and Galiñanes shops expanding, their independent bookstore is one of the ever-expanding stores expanding in the U.S. Despite industry sales being little to none in 2023, they now stand at 2,433, more than 200 over the previous year and nearly doubled since 2016, according to the American Booksellers Association

No matter what, these booksellers will continue to make a difference by creating authentic, loving, and caring spaces for those who love books that they can relate to, feel properly represented, and are educated about.

If you want to learn more about protesting against banned books, click here.

If you want to read some banned books, check out Banned Books: Because We Stand With the Well on Bookshop.