What’s up, fellow readers? It’s time for another Bookstr News Roundup! For those who don’t know what Bookstr News is, this is our weekly series where we gather all of the biggest news happening in the bookish world over the last week and deliver it to you so you can stay informed!
With all that out of the way, let’s get right to it!
Taking On Book Bans in Florida
It wouldn’t be a new edition of Bookstr News without talking about book bans, and unfortunately, the state of Florida has provided material to discuss. This time, a group consisting of publishers, parents, and a free speech group are all taking action against a school board in Florida.
Supporting the parents in a lawsuit against the Escambia County School District and the Escambia County School Board in Pensacola, Florida, are Penguin Random House and PEN America (a non-profit group that stands for expression for free speech in literature).
The plaintiffs, in this case, are arguing that by removing and restricting access to these books, the district is in violation of the First Amendment by “depriving students of access to a wide range of viewpoints, and depriving the authors of the removed and restricted books of the opportunity to engage with readers and disseminate their ideas to their intended audiences” and also argued that this goes against the 14th Amendment as well “because the books being singled out for possible removal are disproportionately books by non-white and/or LGBTQ authors, or which address topics related to race or LGBTQ identity.”
Many have agreed that the agenda behind these book bans is to remove discussions in relation to issues like racism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. In a comment to NBC News, a member of the school board vocalized that he was shocked by the lawsuit due to merely following the laws that have been put in place by the Florida government.
This particular book ban started when Vicki Baggett, a language arts teacher in the Escambia County School District, challenged The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky before going on to challenge more than 100 books for so-called “questionable content,” which then led to a book purge in the district.
Other books that have been included in the purge are Uncle Bobby’s Wedding by Sarah Brennen, All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson, Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan, When Aidan Became a Brother by Kyle Lukoff, Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez, and many others
Suzanne Nossel, the CEO of PEN America and the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, stated, “In Escambia County, state censors are spiriting books off shelves in a deliberate attempt to suppress diverse voices. In a nation built on free speech, this cannot stand,” she said. “The law demands that the Escambia County School District put removed or restricted books back on library shelves where they belong.”
In a surprising twist to how these stories usually go, one of the parents is also on the plaintiff’s side and spoke out against the removal by citing how important diverse stories are for children. It’s heartwarming to see parents advocate for these kids instead of trying to steamroll over them.
The A.I. Menace Continues…
For those who have been living under a rock, the conversation around Artificial Intelligence has taken over the entertainment, and therefore, the bookish space in recent months. The latest problem to arise in the book space is another example of a publisher using A.I. art for the cover of one of their releases.
Bloomsbury Publishing has been accused of using A.I. art for the cover of a release by one of the biggest names in publishing…Sarah J. Maas. The latest reveal for her upcoming book paperback release, House of Earth and Blood, has been accused of using an A.I. art cover. This cover is for the U.K. edition of this book in her Crescent City series.
Now while Maas is a controversial figure in her own right, the blame is being put on the publisher as authors famously do not have as much control over the covers of their books as they probably would like. So, the fact that Bloomsbury would use an A.I. in order to get out of paying for an illustrator for the cover is kind of disgusting and speaks to one of the big issues with A.I. art.
It’s unfortunate to see the greed of such major companies continue to choose to prioritize their own wallets over anything else, but not surprising. The only thing we can continue to do is support independent and smaller authors when we can.
The Bigolas Dickolas Saga Continues
One of the biggest stories that have been dominating the space as of late is the Bigolas Dickolas saga. For those who are a bit late, a Twitter User who goes by the name Bigolas Dickolas AKA @maskofbun, went viral with their promoting This is How You Lose the Time War by Amar El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone.
The tweet has over 14,000 retweets and over 144,000 likes and was all over many people’s feeds when the tweet was in its prime. This wasn’t just a random Twitter Moment either, as there were real-life ramifications because of this, with the novel ending up at #3 on the Amazon Best Sellers list at the time of the article’s publishing last week.
There’s not much else to the story, but it’s just heartwarming to see social media being used for good to boost a book’s sales and get the story out to more people.
Who Took the Slippers?
Now if you were like me and didn’t know they were missing, no worries! Let’s fill you in. So, there are four pairs of the famous slippers in existence, and this pair, in particular, were stolen in 2005 from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, “by a thief who had smashed through a window in the building’s back door to get inside. No fingerprints were left behind, and no alarm went off.” The shoes were not found until a sting operation by the FBI in 2018.
The man who stole the shoes lived about twelve miles from the museum despite not ever being an employee, according to people who worked there.
The shoes are ensured for one million dollars since they were stolen and are still in the custody of the FBI since, until the court case is finalized, nothing can be done with them. Another pair of shoes is in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, and another is in the possession of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
And that’s this week’s Bookstr News! For more news, you can read last week’s article here and keep an eye out on our YouTube channel to watch the video that goes with this episode here! For more bookish content, click here!