PEN America Supports Powell’s Decision to Continue Selling Controversial Book
After a week of demonstrations, PEN America says bookstores play an essential role in ensuring the public's right to access information
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(New York, NY) — As Portland’s world-famous bookstore Powell’s comes under fire for carrying a book by right-wing influencer Andy Ngo, protesters have called for the book’s removal. Powell’s has made a statement defending its right to sell even books they find abhorrent, and noting that the book is available for online order but is not on their shelves and will not be promoted.
Due to protests outside the store and individuals placing signs on the store’s windows, Powell’s closed its store early every day the week of January 11 since the backlash began, saying that it did so “to ensure the safety of employees, protestors, and neighbors.”
“We stand with Powell’s in their decision to carry Ngo’s book. Bookstores play an essential role in ensuring the public’s right to access a wide range of information and knowledge,” said Nora Benavidez, PEN America’s director of U.S. free expression programs. “Selling a book does not equal endorsement, and as we reckon with the divisions in our country, we must recognize and cherish the right of bookstores to offer the perspectives of authors from across the political spectrum—even those that some may find offensive. Shutting down avenues to access those voices, even if appealing to some in this current moment, would set a troubling precedent of censorship for years to come.”