Banned Books Rescued by Kindle

Banned Books Week - ALA banner

It’s “banned books week,” the annual event recognizing that books are still being censored. Every year the American Library Association reports on the most-frequently challenged books all across the country. And every year, I calculate how many of those books are still available on the Kindle…

Surprisingly, it turns out that some of them are even best-sellers in Amazon’s Kindle store! Stephenie Meyer’s popular novel Twilight was also one of the ten most-challenged books last year (and in the year before). Currently it’s one of the Kindle Store’s top-500 best-selling books — even four years after it was published! And Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games also made it onto the list of the year’s ten most-challenged books, even though in Amazon’s Kindle store it’s spent an entire year and a half in the top 100 best-selling ebooks!

It turns out that this year, more than twice as many banned books are available for the Kindle than there were last year. In fact, last year, I’d discovered that you could only download three of the 10 most-challenged books to your Kindle. This year, there’s only three ebooks that you can’t download to your Kindle. Unfortunately, one of them is this year’s most-challenged book — a children’s picture book about two penguins at a zoo at New York. (“And Tango Makes Three” is based on a true story of a same-sex penguin couple who hatch raise a penguin chick.) And the second most-challenged book is also unavailable in the Kindle store. It’s “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” — a 240-page novel about a teenager who leaves an Indian reservation in Washington to attend a more affluent school.

But seven of the 10 most-challenged books are available on your Kindle — and in some cases, they’re even cheaper than the paperback editions!

Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley;
Crank, by Ellen Hopkins;
The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins;
Lush, by Natasha Friend;
What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones;
Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich;
Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer

The only other title that’s not available as an ebook is “Revolutionary Voices: A Multicultural Queer Youth Anthology.” But it’s also tricky to find a print copy. (New ones are priced at $294.95, and and even used copies are selling for $63.04.) I like to think that the availability of all the other titles suggests the Kindle might have a role to play in fighting the censorship of books.

Banned Books Covers (from ALA)

And there’s one more very interesting statistic. Last year there were seven books on the most-challenged list which weren’t available as Kindle ebooks. One year later, five of those seven books are still not available on the Kindle. But two more have come out in Kindle editions — including a sometimes-humorous teen novel called “The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things.” And The Color Purple is also finally available on the Kindle.

Last Wednesday, a Kindle edition became available for the very first time…

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