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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

North Carolina's Independent Bookstores Band Together Against HB 2

Posted by on Wed, Apr 20, 2016 at 11:25 AM

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Naturally, the open letter that independent bookstores across the state sent to the governor’s office and circulated online late last week begins by quoting a book. The petitioners use Ray Oldenburg’s assertion that “third places … are the heart of a community's social vitality and the grassroots of democracy” to frame their argument for the repeal of House Bill 2.

“As independent bookstores providing that third place in communities across our state,” the letter continues, “we believe it is essential to be non-discriminatory, inclusive and tolerant, to promote freedom of speech and equality, and to guard against censorship and unfair treatment.”

The letter, which has thirty-six signatures, also highlights the economic importance of nondiscrimination. “Another part of our mission is to be profitable; to allow ourselves and our employees to earn a respectable living," it says. "What both of these mission statements share is the need for people to visit our stores and become customers.”

Independent bookstores nationwide have been dwindling in number for more than a decade; the survivors largely rely on author events to drive customers into their shops. Like many other arts presenters in North Carolina (there are more arts boycotts I could link, but I ran out of words), bookstores have felt the direct effects of HB 2.

Felicia Day considered canceling her Flyleaf-sponsored event at Cat’s Cradle next week before releasing a video explaining that she had decided to come because of Flyleaf’s anti-HB 2 community leadership and the Cradle’s equal bathroom policy. She has also added a speaker from Equality NC to her Q-and-A. And Malaprops in Asheville lost out on a visit from Sherman Alexie, who tweeted, "In honor and support of the LGBT community, I am cancelling all upcoming events in North Carolina. #RepealHB2."

The letter, dated April 14, is signed by most of the Triangle’s literary havens, including Flyleaf, Raleigh’s Quail Ridge Books and Dollar Book Exchange, Durham’s Regulator Bookshop and Letters Bookshop, Pittsboro’s McIntyre’s Fine Books, Wake Forest’s Page 158 Books, and Saxapahaw’s The Red Door. Publishers including Chapel Hill’s Algonquin Books and Hillsborough’s Eno Publishers also lend their support. 

“For North Carolina, the choice between small businesses and discrimination should be clear. We hope our lawmakers make the right decision and repeal HB2,” the letter concludes. Read it in its entirety on Flyleaf's site.

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