Haven't written for a while, I know, but there just hasn't been that much to talk about . . . until this morning. This morning I found a letter from a customer lying on my desk at work, a letter the store manager had told me about yesterday. I don't know why it's here and not in the manager's office, but I took it as a sign that I should reprint it and let the world know the kind of ridiculous stuff we deal with on a regular basis. Here goes:
To Whom It May Concern:
I am an avid reader of books and have been a customer at [your bookstore] for years. I am writing this letter to express my concern about the content of books. The book jackets always contain glowing reviews and comments about each book. However, reviewers never reveal the existence of profanity, sex or violence contained in each book.
In 2009 I purchased a book entitled The Devil's Punchbowl by Greg Iles which was displayed on your best seller bookshelf. Even though I was repulsed by the content of this book, I read it in its entirety so I could speak knowledgeably about it. I was truly horrified by the extreme profanity, brutal sex and perverted violence therein. I would never have purchased this book if I had known that it contained such bestial and vile material.
Movies are rated for content, so why aren't books rated? I am not in favor of censorship, but I am in favor of providing information for the prospective purchaser. As a consumer I believe I am entitled to make an informed choice about a book before I purchase it at current prices of $25 to $30 per book.
There's a lot I could say about the contents of this letter, but I'll limit myself to two things. First, I love that the customer who sent it was so outraged by her experience reading this novel that it took her over a year to send a letter of complaint. Second, here is the very first line of the blurb which appeared on the dust jacket of the edition she picked up and purchased in our store:
"From New York Times bestselling author Greg Iles comes his most electrifying thriller yet. The Devil's Punchbowl reveals a world of depravity, sex, violence, and the corruption of a Southern town."
I would characterize that as fair warning.