Mormon Inquiry

Mormon Inquiry


What’s wrong with Deseret Book

posted by Dave Banack

At the Salt Lake Tribune: “Deseret Book demotes Twilight.” “Demote” means that neither Twilight nor the other volumes in the megaselling series by LDS author Stephanie Meyer are now available at Deseret Book stores or even at their online site. Here’s the inane company statement provided in respose to questions about the move:

Like any retailer, our purpose is to offer products that are embraced and expected by our customers. When we find products that are met with mixed review, we typically move them to special order status.



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Christopher

posted April 22, 2009 at 12:01 pm


Yet they carry Ann Coulter’s latest books. Ugh.



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LDS in MD

posted April 22, 2009 at 1:31 pm


I am embarrassed for Deseret Book. They have caved to a small minority of people who are one step away from being book burners.
Well, maybe half a step.



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cjs

posted April 22, 2009 at 2:06 pm


I read the book and saw the movie with my teenage daughter. They were not uplifting by any means and riddled with sexual overtones (they never get there, but without the temptation to kill her there would be nothing stopping them from the act). I’m surprised more LDS women aren’t speaking out against this book. Does anyone agree with me or am I alone?



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Dan

posted April 22, 2009 at 2:50 pm


I’ve read all the books and seen the movie. In my opinion, the series is for teens and above. They have a wonderful message about restraint, restraint from promiscuity, and a desire to be together forever instead of just “until death do you part”. Though it is possible that more conservative readers will want to steer clear of this sort of book, I’m sure it will do a lot of good for the more liberal teens of the world.



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Nitsav

posted April 22, 2009 at 3:14 pm


Wow. DB continues its descent into total ghettoization and irrelevance. Soon there won’t be anything in the catalog but primary books.
One of its scholarly authors from BYU told me that DB has decided not to publish as many “scholarly” books.



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Nick Literski

posted April 22, 2009 at 3:22 pm


It sounds like Stephanie Meyer must have run afoul of “She Who Must Not Be Named.” Deseret Book’s CEO is notoriously vindictive, and in my own past experience in the retail book business, I found she’s quite willing to disregard state and local laws in order to suit her purposes.
Of course, you have to wonder a bit about a 200 year old vampire who hangs around high school kids for romance…I think there’s a word for that.



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BEGM

posted April 22, 2009 at 4:41 pm


Watch out, Harry Potter is next!



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Anonymous Coward

posted April 22, 2009 at 7:03 pm


What’s wrong with DB? Their selection.



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Clark Goble

posted April 22, 2009 at 9:12 pm


While I personally have no need to shop at Amazon it seems everyone criticizing DB for focusing in on a core audience are simply mistaken. In this world of online book buying and large chains (Borders and Barnes and Noble) they simply have to distinguish themselves. If that means paring down the stuff you can buy a few stores down in the mall so be it. Taking this as some statement about Meyers or anything else seems silly. DB doesn’t carry your books? OK, so what? You mean there is a store that doesn’t cater to your wants? How horrendous!
At the end of the day what counts is the financials of DB and I suspect this attempt to differentiate themselves is ultimately wise business. This reminds me of the Deseret News and how everyone was after Canon for targeting a niche market. But DN is one of the few newspapers in the country increasing in profits when everyone else is heading towards bankruptcy.



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Clark Goble

posted April 22, 2009 at 9:14 pm


Whoops. That first line should read, I personally have no need to shop at Deseret Books. I shop at Amazon. Perils of allergy season.



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Kent Larsen

posted April 23, 2009 at 12:44 am


Clark, while I agree that anyone competing with Amazon and Barnes & Noble does need to distinguish itself, I don’t think this has anything to do with what is going on in this case.
Deseret Book has a culture of reacting to complaints, complaints that it believes will go to its board of directors. Throwing out Meyers’ books, given their popularity, simply doesn’t make financial sense otherwise. A chain like DB should be selling hundreds of copies of these books each month, amounting to thousands of dollars in sales.
I can understand that the books drew complaints. I’ve not read them, but what I’ve read about them makes me wonder if I wouldn’t object also (although perhaps for different reasons than most of the complaints DB is getting).
The only way this makes sense to me is if a minority of customers is complaining, and in that way dictating what is available to the majority of DBs customers.
In the case of Meyer’s works, I really don’t worry about this that much. Customers can either go on line and purchase her books, or go to any other bookstore. Deseret Book is the only one that looses from this decision.
BUT, I do worry when it comes to books for the LDS market. When DB doesn’t carry a book from an LDS publisher (it doesn’t carry everything, contrary to what members often assume), the book sees significantly fewer sales because DB dominates the market. While those books might be listed on Amazon, someone browsing (as opposed to searching on a subject or searching for the book) will have a hard time finding them. Its not like every book is marked as “Mormon” or “LDS”–in fiction, for example, it isn’t possible to tell whether a book is Mormon or not, unless you recognize the author or publisher as Mormon.
The result of all this is that small LDS publishers have it very difficult if DB doesn’t carry their books. They might as well not exist for the vast majority of LDS Church members.



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Kent Larsen

posted April 23, 2009 at 1:00 am


I should add that this has a downside for the LDS market as a whole. By becoming more and more prudish about what it carries (and since many LDS bookstores follow Deseret Book’s example in cases like this), Deseret Book communicates to most mainstream Mormons that books in LDS stores aren’t likely to have merit or be challenging.
Already 50% or more of the active members I talk to don’t buy books in LDS stores because they think they won’t find anything to interest them in the stores. If Meyer’s books, which are of mediocre quality and generally quite safe in terms of sex and violence, what chance do better written and more realistic books have to make LDS stores? Undoubtedly someone will complain about those books also on equally vague and marginal grounds, and DB won’t carry them either!!
Clark, I’m sure you’ll be able to find what you want in this vein on Amazon. BUT, how will you know if the book has a Mormon connection?



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Mormonsarehypocrites

posted April 23, 2009 at 2:28 am


Why does this surprise you? Mormons assume control over imagination, fiction, and fun. They shoot their own wounded, and anyone who DARES to exhibit individuality or imagination, the church makes a power move on their personality.
IDIOT.



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Jettboy

posted April 23, 2009 at 9:45 am


I can’t stand DB because of the prices anyway. They are way too expensive compared to other comparative markets. I haven’t bought a book from them in years. Because 1) I don’t think the Twilight series is all that good and 2) DB has been dropping in relevancy for years, I really don’t care what they do.
“One of its scholarly authors from BYU told me that DB has decided not to publish as many “scholarly” books.”
I am not surprised. There used to be one good book a year that I became excited by, but that has dropped to one every three or less years. The Deseret Book is owned by the LDS Church, correct? If so then I think it should get out of the book selling business altogether; at least from the direction it has gone. If prices are any indication I don’t think they make much of a profit anyway. Better to completely create product for a distribution center.
Publishing trends indicate they want to be a Mormon romance and kitsch store. They often treat the mainstream section like a side investment. I don’t know why anyone cares what DB does. More importantly, why isn’t there any independent Mormon book publishers and sellers? Actually, I probably already know the answer to that. There really isn’t much profit selling non-romance Mormon literature or scholarly books.



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Last Lemming

posted April 23, 2009 at 9:56 am


Deseret Book has a culture of reacting to complaints, complaints that it believes will go to its board of directors.
If that’s they way DB does business, then perhaps we could organize a mass complaint against Ann Coulter’s books (if Christopher’s assertion in #1 is correct).



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DavidH

posted April 23, 2009 at 2:10 pm


A bizarre decision. I agree with Clark that focusing on the Mormon niche market may be a wise decision, but I also agree with Kent an do not see this decision as a financial focusing on the Mormon niche market (unless the focus is on the ultra rightwing Mormon niche market, e.g., Ann Coulter, not controversial, Stephanie Meyer is too controversial).
It makes me wonder why the Church continues to own a chain of bookstores, other than the distribution center.



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R.W. Rasband

posted April 23, 2009 at 6:58 pm


I’m not a fan of “Twilight”, but this sort of silliness is one reason I seldom go into Deseret Book anymore (Amazon is another).



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Visitor

posted April 23, 2009 at 10:25 pm


I just found out about this. Actually, I agree with the bookstore’s decision- it was long awaited. I actually was slightly irked that they were selling the Twilight novels in the first place. Deseret Bookstore sells things which are primarily clean and spiritual- and Twilight is undeniably not on the same basis. The only reason they were selling the books in the first place was because she was mormon-which aggravates me. I’m glad they went through with this…



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Clark

posted April 23, 2009 at 10:28 pm


In these days of Amazon I do agree that DB is loosing relevance and the Church should simply divest themselves of it. Originally it was important to have so that there was some mail order source for LDS oriented books. However now it’s simply far less relevant. Which isn’t to say everything published by its publishing arm is bad. It isn’t. Even if I don’t care for most of what they publish I can at least recognize that they have some great books. But a lot of crap too.



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Todd Wood

posted April 24, 2009 at 12:14 am


DB – lack of relevance?
But this is where I read what the Prophet and the 12 apostles have to say.



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sloagm

posted April 24, 2009 at 8:30 am


Agree with Visitor. The idea that an LDS author was sold through Deseret just because she is LDS is not in keeping with the store’s audience. Plus, Orson Scott Card has written a ton of Sci-Fi (Ender Series) but none of them are sold by Deseret Book…I think Deseret, like everyone else, were swept up with the popularity of the Twilight series and got on the bandwagon. Now they are seeing that it was not in keeping with the goals of the business and have correctly pulled the titles. Not sure where DavidH has seen Ann Coulter books, but they are not in the online store. Hopefully they are not in the regular stores either.



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Visitor

posted April 25, 2009 at 1:21 pm


In my opinion, it was more than a blessing that Twilight has been removed from Deseret Book. THe books are Morally unclean and denote our religion and beliefs, exposing that which is sacred in our church. Stephanie Meyer is not the writer i will ever have on my shelves.



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Your Name

posted April 25, 2009 at 4:34 pm


Notice the only mormons who are complaining about the Twilight books are the Cultural Utah Mormons, who are about as far from the spirit of the law as one could get. Utah mormons have gone beyond the mark here. I thought Stefanie Meyer did an outstanding job keeping the relationships in this book in a moral context consistent with the law of chastity. They waited until they were married to have sexual relations. Isn’t this the way the plan was set up. Last I checked, Sexual Relations in marriage were still part of the plan. I read the novels and didn’t find anything graphic or salacious. If you read any of the Marriage and Family Relations books like “And they were not ashamed” or any of the books Brimley wrote, you will find consistent messaging.
Don’t be like ancient Isreal and look beyond the mark with your hedge around the law. Good Job Stephanie keep the books coming. Give our children something to read that puts the proper light on Marriage and Sexual Relations.



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Casey

posted April 25, 2009 at 4:50 pm


I agree with Your Name. How many divorces in our church happen because of a lack of understanding of the beauty of sexual relationships in their proper role within marriage. Too many of our children grow up thinking that sex is wrong or something to be shied away from and then end up having tremendous difficulty in their marriage. We still have too high a rate of divorce and pornography use among our people. It’s no wonder why.



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Jettboy

posted April 26, 2009 at 10:13 am


To be honest, and this comes from reading just the first novel, the sexual relationships portrayed in the books were not healthy even if it didn’t end in the act outside of marriage. One example was Edward seemed to end up in her bedroom a few times. They often were in situations that courted the possibility of her death, if not chastity. They were obsessed with each other and would, reading between the lines that were clearly present, dare the other to break a rule. Others who have read farther ahead have said that the relationship became abusive. There were enough hints in the first to not be surprised if this really is the case on the latter books.
I have done some thinking, and reading other posts, and have come to believe that taking Twilight off the shelves is consistent with the purpose of DB. That doesn’t mean putting relevance of DB back, but it is a little more understandable why it happened. To give an example, the many DB that I have gone to splits its stores between Mormon products and secular products. That means that in this case Twilight was promoted by DB considering the product placement in the stores. On the other hand, just like Orson Scott Card, the Ann Coulter’s books are NOT promoted by DB and reside in the secular sections. It will be interesting to see if Twilight is not seen at all or simply relegated to another section of the store.



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Your Name

posted April 26, 2009 at 5:40 pm


The only reason DB was selling the Twilight series was for the money. Is it really so impossible for LDS members to distinguish between fact and fiction? Once again, we see another example of the Mormon Church dictating what their members can and can not read. Yet, they will publish and promote a book like “in quiet desperation” that condones Gay members of the Mormon Church to commit suicide so the parents of these Gay sons and daughters can be relieved of their own guilt and shame! What an embarrasment for the LDS faith.



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Dave C.

posted April 27, 2009 at 6:36 pm


Dave,
If this is a blog, then where is your opinion or thoughts on the issue?
My guess that DB would not have pulled the books off the shelves if they were new releases because of potential lost revenues. Anyhow, I could care less about teenaged vampire fantasies. That these books sold so well in the LDS community speaks volumes about where members are going for mental stimulation and enlightenment – they are going to the land of atavistic escapism.



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Gideon S. Word

posted April 28, 2009 at 3:36 pm


Your Name: Those with viperous tones and rapidly irrational conclusions are difficult to stomach and nearly impossible to communicate with… but I can’t resist and I would like to engage your utterances:
Do you only buy books at Deseret Book Stores?
Did the Church promulgate an official statement of which I am unaware, banning the Twilight books from our home libraries?
Is that why you think this is “Once again, we see another example of the Mormon Church dictating what their members can and can not read”?
Because Deseret Book does not carry Shel Silverstien , Bill Watterson, Edgar Allen Poe, Dante, John Locke, Augustine, Langston Hughes, and Robert Frost I should take their literature off my shelves in order to be a more faithful member of the Church?
Are not these questions in line with your logic?
Are they not it not trivial and pointless?



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Gideon S. Word

posted April 28, 2009 at 5:27 pm


Deseret Book is losing relevance?
Maybe to you and your small circle of progressively apostate influence.
The book has not been banned – you can still special order it. The author has not been banned, her Host book is still on the shelf.
This is straining at gnats and swallowing camels.
If you base the least amount of your faith in the Lord or his Church on what fictional books make the shelf inventory list in a Deseret Bookstore, or are in some way offended by it – be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.



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