Dr. Seuss Books Deemed Offensive Will Be Delisted From eBay -- Update
By Jeffrey A.Trachtenberg
Online marketplace eBay Inc. said it is working to prevent the
resale of six Dr. Seuss books that were pulled earlier this week by
the company in charge of the late author's works because they
contain offensive imagery.
"EBay is currently sweeping our marketplace to remove these
items," a spokeswoman for the company said in an email. New copies
of the six books were no longer for sale online at major retailers
such as Barnes & Noble on Thursday afternoon, which put eBay
among the most prominent platforms for the books to be sold.
Hundreds of listings for the six books could be found on the
platform as of Thursday morning, though the number appeared to be
lower than it was on Wednesday evening. The eBay spokeswoman said
that it would take some time to review seller listings and that the
company was monitoring newly published listings.
Retailers frequently make decisions to remove products from
their platforms for a variety of reasons. The move made by eBay
comes at a time when there is rising concern, especially in
conservative quarters, about how major tech platforms decide which
content is acceptable. At the same time, others contend the
platforms aren't doing enough to police inappropriate content.
Dr. Seuss Enterprises LP, which oversees Dr. Seuss's publishing
interests and ancillary areas, Tuesday said it had decided that six
of the famed author's books -- "And to Think That I Saw It on
Mulberry Street"; "If I Ran the Zoo"; "McElligot's Pool"; "On
Beyond Zebra!"; "Scrambled Eggs Super!" and "The Cat's Quizzer" --
would no longer be published because they "portray people in ways
that are hurtful and wrong."
After the announcement, one woman said she listed two titles,
"On Beyond Zebra!" and "McElligot's Pool," for sale on eBay on
Wednesday. Later that day, she said, she received an email from
eBay explaining that "On Beyond Zebra!" had been removed from sale
because it violated eBay's "offensive material policy." The second
title was pulled Thursday morning, she said.
"Dr. Seuss Enterprises has stopped publication of this book due
to its negative portrayal of some ethnicities," said the email
message from eBay, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
"As a courtesy, we have ended your item and refunded your selling
fees, and as long as you do not relist the item, there will be no
negative impact to your account."
Plenty of controversial items -- including Adolf Hitler's "Mein
Kampf" and "The Turner Diaries," a novel popular with
white-supremacist groups -- were available on eBay as of Wednesday
evening. When asked, the spokeswoman said these two books also fell
in the "offensive material" category and would be removed. On
Thursday afternoon it appeared that "The Turner Diaries" was no
longer available on eBay.
With "millions of transactions happening every day on our
platform across more than 190 markets, we are constantly evaluating
and making improvements to ensure prohibited items remain off
eBay," the spokeswoman said.
The six discontinued Dr. Seuss books aren't among the late
author's best-known works. Earlier this week, publisher Random
House Books for Young Readers and several booksellers -- including
Barnes & Noble -- said Dr. Seuss's best-known books would
remain available to customers.
More than five million print copies of Dr. Seuss's books were
sold in the U.S. last year, according to data from NPD BookScan --
led by "Oh, the Places You'll Go!" and "Green Eggs and Ham," which
each sold by the hundreds of thousands. Of the now-discontinued
books, the top seller last year was "If I Ran the Zoo," with about
7,000 copies sold.
Some copies of all six discontinued titles remained available
for sale from third-party sellers on Amazon.com Inc. A spokeswoman
for Amazon declined to comment.
Amazon last week faced questions from Republican senators after
it removed a book about transgender issues that had been on sale on
the platform for about three years. Amazon didn't comment on the
senators' letter but said it reserved the right not to sell certain
titles based on its content guidelines for books.
A spokesman for Encounter Books, which published "When Harry
Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment," by
conservative scholar Ryan T. Anderson, said on Thursday that the
publishing house still hasn't received an explanation for why the
book was removed from sale. Amazon on Thursday referred to its
"All retailers make decisions about what selection they choose
to offer and we do not take selection decisions lightly," Amazon
said in a statement last week.
Write to Jeffrey A.Trachtenberg at
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
March 04, 2021 18:08 ET (23:08 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.