Why Books Still Matter: New Book of Essays Benefits OIF

Banned and Challenged Books, General Interest, Intellectual Freedom News, Office for Intellectual Freedom
Image of book cover: Why Books Still Matter. Honoring Joyce Meskis: Essays on the Past, Present, and Future of Books, Bookselling, and Publishing. Edited by Karl Weber

Why Books Still Matter, a new book of essays inspired by the late First Amendment champion Joyce Meskis, has been released this month, with proceeds going to the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF).

Meskis, who owned the celebrated independent bookstore Tattered Cover in Denver, was a fierce opponent of book banning, and 16 luminaries in book-related fields and the U.S. Senate have contributed to the book, which is edited by Karl Weber and published by Rivertowns Books.

“The topics of the essays in Why Books Still Matter are some of the most important in our country right now, from freedom of speech and censorship to representation so people can see themselves reflected in books and to build empathy,” said ALA President Emily Drabinski. “We are deeply thankful that the proceeds of the book will be donated to ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom to champion libraries in this current landscape of increasing book challenges throughout the country.”

The ALA saw a record 4,240 unique book titles targeted for censorship in 2023, a 65 percent increase from 2022, when 2,571 titles were challenged. OIF tracked 1,247 demands to censor library books, materials and resources in 2023. For additional information about book challenges and how to fight them, visit the Unite Against Book Bans website.

About Why Books Still Matter:

If books didn’t matter, nobody would try to ban them.

In a nation struggling to cope with polarization, disinformation, acrimony, the power of books—to inform, enlighten, and inspire—is more important than ever. To honor Joyce Meskis, the legendary bookseller who founded Denver’s Tattered Cover and became a champion of First Amendment freedoms, a team including some of today’s leading publishers, booksellers, authors, and free speech activists offers reflections on the vital role of books in our nation’s cultural, civic, social, and economic life.

Contributing essayists include:

  • U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper of Colorado lauds the mission that Meskis embraced: “The more books we can put in people’s hands, the better the world will be.”
  • Nick Higgins and Amy Mikel of the Brooklyn Public Library discuss an award-winning program to make banned books available to young people in communities across the country.
  • Civil liberties attorney Steve Zansberg describes a new way to think about the right to free expression and its role in a democratic society.

The book can be purchased from the publisher’s website here.