New initiative sends free banned books to Floridians

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banned books, First Amendment
Banned books. Displayed at The Hive St. Pete. By Seán Kinane/WMNF News (Aug. 2023)

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Florida is one of the top states in the nation for book bans in schools. One organization is sending banned books to Floridians for free.

Joyce Linnehan, co-founder of BannedBooksUSA.org, was disturbed by the book bans in Florida and across the nation.

“Books in libraries have always been really important to us, and, our democracy, I think, is being threatened by these attempts to quell intellectual freedom.”

So she partnered with Paul English, a fellow bookworm and tech entrepreneur who founded the travel website Kayak. They created BannedBooksUSA.org to provide free books to Floridians that have been challenged, banned, or removed from schools. Customers only have to pay for shipping.

Andy Hunter is the CEO of Bookshop.org, the supplier of the books. He says BannedBooksUSA.org’s model has been sustainable so far.

“Donations are matching the book sales roughly, so it seems like it’s able to go on. People are ordering books, hundreds of books have shipped so far, but we’ve also gotten thousands of dollars of donations.”

Linnehan encourages readers to fight against the spike in book banning.

“Start showing up at your library board meetings, and your school library board meetings, because other people, the people who would ban books, are showing up and they are speaking up, and that’s how this is happening. It’s been going on for a long time, so it’s really important that people who value intellectual freedom and the freedom to read are showing up in those spaces.”

The organization is hoping to expand across the nation.

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