Booksellers Fight Age Restriction Rule on Bookshop Sites

Booksellers Fight Age Restriction Rule on Bookshop Sites

Censorship is nothing new to the literary community, where books are banned every week due to someone deeming the material inappropriate for certain audiences. Louisiana, however, might be carrying that principle a bit too far with a new law that demands bookselling websites publishing material that may be inappropriate to minors to verify the age of all users—and several New Orleans bookshops are prepared to fight the decree, reports The Guardian.

A recently filed federal lawsuit backed by Octavia Books, the Garden District Bookshop, Future Crawfish Paper LLC, the publisher of Antigravity Magazine, the American Booksellers Association, and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, claims the law violates the first amendment rights of booksellers and publishers alike, as well as causing their online marketplaces to wrongly appear as adult bookstores.

Aside from the first amendment issues, the lawsuit also makes a point that the new law doesn’t define between older minors and young children. The wording states that “there is a broad range of material that has serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for some 17-year-olds that might be considered harmful to a 10 or 12-year-old.”

Failure to obey the law—which dictates online booksellers must “electronically acknowledge and attest that the person seeking to access the [harmful to minors] material is 18 years of age or older”—results in a fine of up to $10,000. This means that bookshops would be mandated to either put an age confirmation button on the opening page of their website or to sift through the millions of books for sale and put that button on every individual page deemed inappropriate for minors.

What does the LitReactorVerse think of this controversial law? Is Louisiana going too far in the name of combating internet pornography, or should bookshops drop the suit and comply?

Raine Winters

News by Raine Winters

Raine lives in Cleveland, Ohio and works as a freelance writer and graphic artist. From an early age she has harbored a love of reading and writing, and is lucky enough to incorporate both into her daily work routine. Raine is a lover of all things fantasy and horror related, has a soft spot in her heart for middle grade and young adult fiction, and spends most of her free time running, wakesurfing, or wrangling in her husband and three cats while they perpetrate a massive amount of mischief around the house.

To leave a comment Login with Facebook or create a free account.


jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like November 9, 2015 - 3:11pm

Could get pretty complicated if the booksellers demand the publishers start rating their books. If the publisher claims it's for "teens", is the bookseller absolved of responsibility for stocking it? Will it be labeled "for teens, except where prohibited by law"? Sounds sketchy.

I mean, they do this for music, movies and games. I'm not itching for people to start putting content advisories on books, but I'm also sort of surprised they don't yet. It's not only "conservatives" who've been interested in labeling books' content. (There's been all that talk about "trigger warnings" and such.)

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami November 9, 2015 - 3:41pm

The politicians must have needed the money bad enough to 'warrant' trying to pass a law that violates the constituion.

They don't care about what children see in actuality, it's all money for them. Le the parents decide what's appropriate.