When buying books, a common credo encourages people to buy local and cheap food. This is not only pointing to booksellers, but also to the authors and publishers that have the cards stacked against them. Indie publishers of the U.S., Haymarket Books, are not only offering huge discounts at end of the year with 40 percent off all titles, but also running a fundraising push at end of the year to support their Books Not Bars project.
According to nonames Radical Hood Library, Haymarkets website states that books not bars are an effort to help those inside who are facing the vast criminalization of the prison system we want to do what we can to help people get creative with radical books and political opportunities. We worked with organizations that send books inside for many years and we’re expanding this effort.
The money raised from the program goes to cover costs for bookkeeping and shipping. Books Not Bars have a list of books that can be preferred by the prisoners of prison, and their subjects vary widely. To celebrate Christmas and other winter holidays, the publisher wants to give 50 books to those in prison as presents. When the campaign started on November 29th, Haymarket had a modest goal to raise $5,000. Almost three times the cost of reading a week is almost three digits, so that around three times the cost of sending out books.
Censorship by any means necessary should be a necessity.
This kind of program isn’t important just because access to reading material and education programs lower the rate of recidivism in prisons. It’s because the extreme liberal censorship of reading material in prisons can be just as powerful as the censorship sees now in public libraries and schools. There are many of the same excuses for banning books on history, gender, and race. I have added the cover to claim a book was a security risk. The maps of the moon have been denied.
A book, even with more playful features, also got hit by the banhammer, including Shakespeares sonnets and the work of Alison Bechdel and Toni Morrison. Even children’s books are prohibited as such like Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons was in Tennessee. In Texas only, there are 10,000 working permits. That’s the reason why Haymarket worked closely with local groups. They can navigate the complex (and arbitrary) rules of each state. Even those who buy/send books are sometimes fairly familiar with laws. In a few states, only publishers and bookstores can send them. In other states, bookstores can’t send books. In others, only those incarcerated can buy books.
This program is one of several efforts of Haymarket to achieve the many theories offered in a lot of the left-leaning titles. I cannot insist that this is not just a holiday, but a year-round program, but I have to mention that this would be a great gift for those who have interests in education, politics, social justice, history and more. If you donate, you can choose to donate in memory or honor of a second person.
Donate to the Bar here. If you know someone in need of that, they also have a request form.
(featured photo: Haymarket Books, Alyssa Shotwell)