Thursday, August 04, 2005

Banned at Borders?

I was trying to track down a report that The Love Spell: An Erotic Memoir of Spiritual Awakening, by high-profile Wiccan lawyer and priestess Phyllis Curott, had been yanked from bookstores after pressure from social-conservative Christians such as these.

I cannot find anything so far to substantiate that rumor.

What is probably worse, in her social sphere, is getting the snarky treatment from Veiled Conceit, a blog devoted to sarcastic deconstruction of New York Times wedding announcements.


Blogger Inanna said...

I saw Ms. Curott speak at Starwood a few weeks back, and she said that despite relatively brisk sales of her book in the first six weeks, most copies were returned to the publisher unsold. She also claimed that the Religious Right is campaigning against her book because she is a Witch and the book is about sex. I haven't seen any corroborating evidence for her claims. She was passionate and intelligent, though, so I'm inclined to give her the benefit of the least, I hope she's not paranoid. Let us know if you come up with anything.

8:08 PM  
Blogger Chas S. Clifton said...


Yes, it was her talk at Starwood that started the rumor mill turning.

Just speaking in general terms, publishing is an odd and inexact business, and bookstore returns are part of the process. An author's royalties are based on books sold--but then you look down the the next line of your royalty statement, and you see "returns" as a deduction, and then the final amount sold is often much less!

So we don't know if some stores over-ordered the book and are simply returning extra copies in the normal way, or if there was some pressure campaign.

Had there been a campaign, though, I think the Traditional Values people would be loudly proclaiming their great victory.


7:50 AM  
Blogger Inanna said...

Hey, I was there when the rumor mill started? That's gotta be a first.

I know the book business is quixotic at best, and there doesn't appear to have been an organized campaign. I don't know what to think.

9:11 AM  
Anonymous Arachne said...

Well I work at a Borders store and as the token pagan there, have heard nothing about this.

Hell- back during Valentine's Day, it was part of a required display for the holiday, so if nothing else Borders promoted the book at one point.

Like another poster said, books get returned all the time- if they aren't selling, if the paperback edition is due out soon, if the books are damaged and/or defective.

The only thing I can think of, is that the company ordered a good deal during the holiday, and then reduced the numbers when the book didn't keep selling.

To be honest, the number one factor that would have cut her sales wasn't the fact the book was about sex. It was the fact that the book was hardback. With the exception of bargain books or big encyclopedias, hardback pagan books don't sell. Not sure why, but they just don't.

8:48 AM  
Blogger Chas S. Clifton said...


I suspect you have nailed it. We're dealing with the vagaries of the book market here, not a pressure campaign against this particular title.


9:10 AM  
Anonymous Arachne said...

Just an update- out of curiousity, I checked the stock of my store, and a Borders I visited out of state. Both stores had her book in stock and on the shelf. And both stores are in the Bible Belt.

Go figure.

5:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Borders, Waldenbooks Won't Carry Magazine (it contains Mohammed cartoons!)
San Francisco Chronicle ^ | 3/29/06 | Carolyn Thompson

Appears that the Muslim intimidation is working. Perhaps the Christians just aren't trying hard enough.

6:13 AM  

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