Friday, April 25, 2014

Who Should Decide What You Read?

Whenever I hear a bookstore refuses to sell a book because of the nature of its content, I cringe. We should support the First Amendment by making available all books to all people. Let society members decide with their wallets, what to buy and read. But I found myself wondering about a local magazine shop’s decision to remove all of the porn that he used to sell in droves. To be specific, he was no longer selling Playboy, Penthouse, Club, High Society and the other skin mags that have been around for decades.

Is this a good or bad thing?

If you believe porn, including established magazines, is bad for society and causes the exploitation and objectification of women; you have the right not to buy them. But when stores that used to sell these magazines now decide to remove the genre, I feel a bit uneasy.

What about magazines that promote tattoos, guns, or other behaviors that some find questionable? If you read GQ or Glamour, you will have warped perspectives of how men and women should look, act, and talk. Are they good for society? Magazines that discuss business and wealth may seemingly be fine, but could some object to how they foster a greedy culture?

See where this is going?

I asked the store owner what happened to his adult magazine section and the owner said he feels guilty selling them. He had a change of heart and wanted to clean his act up. I pointed to the cigarettes (cancer), lottery tickets (addiction), and junk food (obesity, diabetes) and asked about these things – they are far more harmful than pictures of pretty women.

He acknowledged his struggles with these things.  If he cuts back all that is challenging his morality, he won’t have a store. He could say that there’s no harm in eating a candy bar or scratching a lottery ticket, and that it’s up to the individual to exhibit self-control. Or he can see all of these things are addictive and destructive and that most people can’t control their habits and cease their sale.

I think porn is more are than a product. These magazines express ideas and use photography to impact the reader. Shouldn’t people be allowed to entertain themselves with these magazines?

But it’s a tricky issue to tackle. Does a store owner have an obligation to follow his morals? Do consumers need to demand better products? 

These are big issues but when it comes to publications – whether they are about porn or any subject – I think we need to have a high tolerance for what gets sold. Otherwise, we’ll start to find fault with each magazine, newspaper, or book and only be left with an empty shelf.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014

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