On March 25th, author Brian D. Kennedy sent out the following tweet upon noticing that his queer debut YA novel, A Little Bit Country, was no longer available for preorder online from Target:
This triggered more writers to check on the status of their books’ availability on Target.com, and some to realize that their books (both those on preorder and those already published) had also disappeared. Dahlia Adler noticed her books Cool For the Summer and Home Field Advantage were gone.
According to later tweets he posted, Kennedy’s publisher, Balzer + Bray (an imprint of HarperCollins), is set to publish five debut young adult novels this year — three of which disappeared from Target’s website. Those three all deal with LGBTQ+ themes or subject matter.
Ultimately, Matt Imrie reached out to a representative from Target about the situation, who responded (below) saying that the removals were entirely accidental and likely a result of an algorithm.
In the midst of this, a collaborative Google spreadsheet was started (you can view it here) to log each LGBTQ+ book that was removed from Target’s website.
As Target has been silently repopulating the titles to its website as of March 26th, the day after the accusations began, it’s important to acknowledge that the removal happened in the first place. It will certainly be interesting to see how large corporations juggle dedication to their progressive images with implications and pressures from things like Florida’s Don’t Say Gay bill.
In 2018, Target was pressured into removing Abigail Shrier’s transphobic book Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Out Daughters for its inflammatory and derogatory sentiments towards transgender youth. Just a day later, it was made available again for purchase.
And, as for Kennedy’s book, the gay YA romance A Little Bit Country is the story of two boys falling in love at a country music-themed amusement park inspired by Dollywood.
For more queer book recommendations, click here.