Op-Ed: Clinging to old classics can go hand in hand with banning books, says author Christopher Hitchens
I am not a fan of censorship, but I support the right of a publisher to put something in the marketplace that has not gone through a long and painful review process. There are things a publisher has to decide and does have to do to make a decision, but the key thing is that they have to do it. Sometimes it’s as simple as being the only publisher of a book whose editor-in-chief has written a letter to the editor of the country’s only newspaper, saying ‘The editor-in-chief of the London Times thinks it would be unfair to put this in the bookshop because this is something that the Times editors have not read.’
However, there are other times when the publisher has to make a decision. The most important decision is when the book is a novel, a memoir, a history of ideas or other important work containing ideas that you would not want your enemies to know about.
In this case, you could make your own decision. You could say that one day you really will read the book (or if you don’t have time, you could say ‘I’m not really interested in reading this at the moment’). This means you make your own choice on whether to buy it.
If you are a reader, this means you can still read it. If you are a potential reader, this means it means you are ready to buy it when you see the publisher put it on the shelf, or in some cases put it in the window of the bookshop. It has to be on the shelves.
This is all to do with the censorship issue. One does not have to agree with the idea of censorship to see that publishers have to make choices. Sometimes they can’t make the choice. They have to take into account all of the points above. What happens when someone decides to buy a book that contains a reference to the Holocaust? I’m thinking of a self-published book which contains