Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Searching for Man and Beast

As Rabbi Student pointed out, Rabbi Slifkin's newest book, Man and Beast, is currently for sale. In his announcement, he said the following:

Note that some bookstores will receive resistance from one or two customers about their selling this book. Your support, by verbally requesting the book and thanking the store manager for stocking it, will serve to counter this resistance. In the end, the loudest customer wins. So please take the time to ask for this book in your local bookstore, and register your concern if the book is not sold.

I decided to do an informal survey of some Jewish booksellers in Brooklyn. The first one I went to was a very popular store in the heart of Midwood. I looked around the store to see if it was in stock. Not finding it, I went to a clerk.

"Hi!" I said. "I was wondering if you can help me. I'm looking for a specific book."

"Sure," he said with a smile. "What book are you looking for?"

"Man and Beast" I said with a completely straight face, without giving the author's name. I could see him stiffen as I said the name of the book. The smile disappeared from his face.

"We don't carry that." he said.

"Do you plan on carrying it anytime in the future?" I asked.

"No," came the curt reply.

I travelled around the corner to another bookstore. After not finding it on the shelves, I asked the clerk for the book. He said that he had never heard of it and went to check on his computer. After a few minutes, he found it. "It looks like an interesting book," he said. I wasn't sure if he meant it seriously or sarcastically. "A very interesting book."

"Will you be getting it in stock anytime soon?" I inquired.

"I don't think so," he said.

My third stop was at another bookseller which opened a few years ago. Looking around I found a few of Rabbi Slifkin's books (although none of the banned ones) and asked the clerk about the book. He never heard of it.

My last stop was at a store further south in Flatbush. This store had most of Rabbi Slifkin's non-banned books and even had a copy of Mysterious Creatures on the shelf. There was no sign, however, of Man and Beast. The clerk knew who Rabbi Slifkin was and was well aware of the controversy. Nonetheless, he didn't have the new book and said he wasn't sure when it would be available. However, he didn't rule out carrying it.

When the time comes, I'll probably get my copy directly from Rabbi Student. But, nonetheless, I found the reactions I got to my informal search very interesting. Maybe I'll even expand it to a few more stores in the coming days.

The Wolf


Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

I'm honestly shocked. It would seem to me that their reticence is based on a cost-benefit analysis and you'd think that the benefit (sales) would outweight the costs (some criticism). This book, after all, was not even put in herem!

Jewboy said...

Censorship a la Communist regimes is alive and well in Flatbush, Lakewood, and Monsey, etc.

Reb Yudel said...

I wonder to what extant the Internet ban will lead bookstores to disproportionately favor the clients who can't shop online.

Pragmatician said...

Try a B&N store, there at leats there's a chance.

Anonymous said...

Jewboy said...
Censorship a la Communist regimes is alive and well in Flatbush, Lakewood, and Monsey, etc.

I can think of at least one Jewish bookstore in Monsey that will (most likely) carry the book.

Monsey Native


will carry it
heck he sells a.geiger's pirush to rashi

FrumGirl said...

Do you blame them, seems everyone is afraid.

Gil Student said...

I did some online searching and found two NY stores that list the book on their websites:

Levine Judaica


There are others that just haven't gotten around to putting it on their website (or don't want to make it so obvious that they have it).

DYM said...

Both Jewish bookstores in the DC area carry Mysterious Creatures, Man and Beast, Nature's Song, and Seasons Life (well some are available on one of the stores, and the others - at the other).

I haven't checked back yet after the new one came out, but I'm sure they will be carrying it.

I guess it pays to be outside of Brooklyn Ir Hakodesh.