Central Iowa booksellers have been wiped out of race-related books

As protesters march through Iowa, books about the race fly off the shelves.

For the past two weeks since George Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis cop, people eager to learn more about race relations have turned to the books.

In central Iowa, so many people buy, rent, or listen to books about the breed that local booksellers, national chains, and libraries are struggling to get their hands on some of the more popular titles.

The most requested tracks are “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo, “How to Be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi and “Me and White Supremacy” by Layla F. Saad.

Hunter Gillum, director of Beaverdale Books, said the independent bookstore has at least 30 names on a waiting list for all three titles. For “How to Be an Anti-Racist” alone, he said he had received more requests for copies than the store had sold since the book’s release in 2019.

He ordered 50 copies of the book to prepare for additional requests, especially since “How to Be an Anti-Racist” recently landed on the New York Times bestseller list.

“We’ve had a significant increase in demand for these titles, and it’s certainly nationwide, because our distributor doesn’t have any anymore. So I had to go to the publisher to get them,” he said. he declared.

The requests began the last week of May and haven’t stopped, he said, which he attributes to people wanting to know more about the race after protests began in Minneapolis after Floyd’s death.

“With everything that is going on, people want to educate themselves,” he said.

Gillum said breed-related books make up the majority of recent inquiries. He expects orders to arrive shortly but is uncertain when he will be able to put the books on the shelves due to the volume of requests.

The Des Moines Public Library has also seen a significant increase in demand for race-related books. The library has a list of books on racial justice and anti-racism and has made several titles available as e-books or e-audiobooks with no waiting or waiting times until June. Anyone who wants a physical copy of “How to Be an Anti-Racist” will have to wait awhile – the book has 49 takes for eight copies. “White Fragility” has 75 takes for 12 copies.

The same two books are also out of stock on Amazon.

Ted Mansueto, deputy director of Half Price Books at Clive, said the chain’s three most requested titles are “White Fragility,” “The New Jim Crow” and “How to Be an Antiracist.” He said he estimates there are more than a dozen requests per day for titles the store cannot fill.

“Just because we don’t have it in store doesn’t mean we don’t want it,” he said.

The chain has struggled to get breed-related books from publishers, and people aren’t reselling them at the store, he said.

It’s a similar problem for Tracy Johnson, who owns Walls of Books at Ankeny. He said he gets four to six calls a day for “How to be anti-racist” and “White fragility.” He expects requests to continue pouring in for at least the next few weeks.

“There is definitely a demand, and I think people are interested in taking this awareness and making changes,” he said.

Sarah LeBlanc covers new trends for the Registry. Contact her at 515-284-8161 or [email protected]

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Grover Z. Barnes

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