There is a bill getting ready to cross the governor of Indiana's desk. If he doesn't veto it, any bookseller carrying "sexually explicit materials" will have to register with the state. The ABFFE, a group of 15 independent booksellers, and Borders are encouraging the veto.
Aside from the fact that it's unconstitutional, it's also bloody ridiculous.
The bill seems to be aimed at adult bookstores, but the problem is, the wording is so vague that pretty much anything could be considered sexually explicit. There are bookstores that carry adult magazines. Most stores have The Joy of Sex and a copy of the Kama Sutra lurking somewhere where the kids can't get to them. At Booksmith, we kept them right up at the register - perhaps not the best spot for adults who wanted their privacy, but it ensured that seven-year-old Billy wasn't getting an eyeful.
Expand out a bit from the obvious - what else gets painted with that broad brush?
Erotica, of course. But what about other books that have sex scenes of any kind? Is the spinner rack of monthly Harlequin romances suddenly against the law if you don't register it? What about Laurel K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series?
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings? What's Happening to My Body?
How about the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition?
We had a magnet display at Booksmith. The designs ranged from inspirational quotes to reproductions of fine art. A woman spied Michaelangelo's David and accused us of selling pornographic material. This was a store that didn't carry adult magazines, and she freaked out over a magnet with one of the most recognizable sculptures in the world. What if that's the kind of person deciding where the line of sexually explicit vs acceptable is drawn?
I don't know very many people in Indiana, but if you happen to have friends there, ask them to call or write to the governor. Or, if they don't want to do that, encourage them to poke their heads into one of those bookstores and offer their support.