« Book Review - The Frog Princess | Main | Website Update - Revisions to X-Plane UDP VB Page »

Abunga - The Close Minded Bookstore

Abunga LogoIt's Friday afternoon, I'm running out of time to meet my post per week goal, and I just don't have that much motivation, today. So, I'll just briefly discuss a topic that's been on a few other blogs, recently, the new online bookstore, Abunga.com. It was discussed recently on Pharyngula (it even got a follow-up entry), and in an aritcle in the Knoxville News. From their home page, their logo is, "Empowering Decency as your Family Friendly Bookstore. Basically, they "empower decency" by only carrying books that they deem appropriate. Hell, I'll just quote from their site to explain what they do:

Abunga provides three levels of content filtering:
  • Internal Filter – We remove broad classifications of illicit materials by the information classifications set by the publisher. Currently, over 65,000 books are eliminated from our available inventory to protect your family.
  • Individual Customer Block - On any search, any Abunga customer member can click the block button and that particular book will never show up as an offering on their account.
  • Community Block – Abunga records your blocks and if a number of customers block the same product, Abunga will remove it from their offering.

Now, Abunga's perfectly within their rights to run a bookstore this way. I just think it's remarkably silly. As PZ Myers said in his first blog entry on the subject, "This makes no sense to me. There are a lot of books that I deplore, and the way I cope with them is that I don't buy them. I don't go to the manager and tell them that no one else should be allowed to buy them."
In some of the responses I've seen to people defending Abunga, they've brought up the, "but what about the children" defense. It's still silly. We're not talking about a brick and mortar bookstore, here, where a kid could just walk up and start thumbing through An Illustrated History of Pornography. It's an online store. The only way a book is going to be bought is if someone of legal age with a credit card orders it. Who's really being protected, here? And seriously, if you're that worried about your kid ordering illicit material from an online store, what in the hell are you doing letting them on the internet without any oversight?

There is at least one redeeming quality to the company - they donate 5% of every purchase to a charity that the customer chooses (from a list of pre-approved charities).

One last thing I want to point out, if you go visit their page, at least at the time I'm writing this, in the top left corner there's a little picture of a book with one of those "no smoking" type lines through it, right next to the words "Empowering Decency." In fact, I've copied it, and put it at the top of this entry. I think it's a little funny that the first logo you see on a bookstore is a symbol for "no books allowed."

So sure, Abunga has every right to run a bookstore this way, and their customers have every right to shop there. I also have every right to call them a bunch of close minded ignoramuses, and take my business to a company that's a little more open minded, and will let me decide what books I want or don't want to read.


Great techniques of filtering.By these methods every book store can discard waste volumes.Good job...

Ok, so I really not that familiar with the website, But I am familiar with their actual store. I worked in one of them. I will tell that they try and carry what people want, but we get a lot of repeat business such as church groups and teachers, When people come in and say for instance I dont think you should sell Harry Potter, because this is a Christian Book store. Im not going to come back here anymore. It was up to the manager and corporate to decide whether or not they should carry it. I dont think the website should be any different. If the company doesnt want to tell a certain product, they shouldnt have too. If you dont find it on here, go somewhere else. I dont go to walmart and say oh goodness you sell bibles.. im not coming here anymore. No, because thats stupid... but what you and I think is not what the rest of the world thinks. You give people what they want, when more people say they dont want something, they get rid of it. Everyone is entitled to there opinion. And abunga.com tries to hear everyones opinion.


I could not find any mention on Abunga's site that they had actual brick and mortar stores. The closest thing I could find was a mention in a short news story, that Abunga had teemed up with Family Book Outlet and SAS & Associates. Are you referring to one of those stores?

Like I wrote in my original post, I'd understand much better a brick and mortar store having that type of business strategy, even if I personally disagreed with it. I mean really, in an online bookstore, what type of illicit material are you exposed to by seeing the cover of The Golden Compass? And like I wrote, they're perfectly within their legal rights to run a store that way. Still, I think it's silly. It makes much more sense to target a niche (finding and stocking all the books you can on a particular subject), than to actively exclude content.

Plus, it's so haphazard. I'm going to Godwin myself here, but Mein Kampf is available. I haven't read it, but I think I'll find the content of the book extremely morally objectionable (I do intend to read it some day, to try to gain some insight into how an entire nation could conspire to commit such atrocities). Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus and Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion are available, which I'd imagine a Christian bookstore would find objectionable. Pullman's The Golden Compass is blocked, but a collection of the entire trilogy of His Dark Materials is available.

Post a comment


TrackBack URL for this entry:


Selling Out