A local bookstore is sounding the alarm on a Texas book rating law that it calls unconstitutional.
House Bill 900, which goes into effect this Fall, regulates public school library materials, and many of the classic books that students have been reading for decades might be at risk.
Inside Blue Willow Book Store, you’ll find shelves with thousands of reads. The locally owned small business works with 21 school districts around Texas, accounting for about 20% of the shop’s revenue.
Owner Valerie Koehler says a new state law signed by Governor Abbott in June causes her great concern.
“The way the law is written is poorly and vaguely,” said Koehler.
The law goes into effect on Sept. 1.
It would force bookstores to read and rate every book they sell to schools, including the countless books they sold in the past. Vendors that don’t comply will be barred from doing business with any school.
“There is no list,” said Koehler. “We don’t even know what we are supposed to be looking for,” she added, which means any book could be on the chopping block. “Absolutely. All of Shakespeare, the Bible, many classics that are used in advanced placement testing,” said Koehler.
She says the task to rate the books is also costly.
“We are going to have to read every single book, word for word, line by line,” said Koehler. “The time, which is money, that it would take for us to spend, it could very well bankrupt us,” she added.
Blue Willow has filed a lawsuit with an Austin-based bookstore, BookPeople, and several nonprofits.
“A whole group of people have banded together to fight this,” said Koehler.
She says it’s important for students that people don’t just turn the page and accept this new law.
“Especially students who don’t have access to a bookstore, maybe even to a public library, but their school library is their place, it’s their safe haven, it’s the place where they can go explore ideas,” she said.