March 19, 2006

Borders Skirmish

Received a reply from Borders on their policy of preferred shelf placement for the Koran. Previously, they'd given me conflicting signals on the issue -- one customer service email said it was Borders policy to show respect for Islam by keeping Korans on the top shelf while a second email stated it wasn't company policy at all. This latest message seems like their definitive statement on the subject:

After calling several stores regarding the shelving practices of the title, I discovered that the stores I called all placed the Koran on the top shelf. They could not verify if this was company policy, but the stores that I spoke with stated they shelved the Koran on the top shelf out of respect for the religion.

I would also like to apologize for the discrepancies in the previous responses. Scott's email was completed before Tamra's, but Tamra's reached you first. Tamra received a call from the store's manager concerning the issue with the updated information that Scott was not provided when he made a contact to the store.

Fair enough. But then the question becomes why shouldn't other religious holy books get the same level of defference? I can't speak for the other stores the Borders customer rep contacted, but as far as the one here in Wilmington, the only Jewish Bibles getting similar "respect" were the oversized editions -- the rest were on a middle shelf. If Borders is going to predicate shelf placement on respect for the Islam, does the fact that other holy books don't warrant the same treatment imply disrespect?

Posted by JakeM at March 19, 2006 07:01 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

What's respectful or not to the Koran isn't your call. It's for Islam to decide.

My guess is it has to do with the whole Muslim hangup about shoes. They probably got a message from a Muslim customer or employee who didn't think shoes should touch the Koran, or even come close.

Personally, I think the shoe thing is wack. Remember the video of US troops rolling into Baghdad where people were holding up their shoes, and the GIs were going "WTF??"

I think it's perfectly respectful to treat the Koran like the other holy books. And besides, the book is just a paper object, not the Word itself. But like I said, it's not my call.

Posted by: private at March 20, 2006 02:29 PM

Private's right. If the Christians and Jews demanded it, Borders would probably comply. But we don't and frankly Borders doesn't carry versions of the scriptures that are especially venerated (like the Torah scrolls in a Synagogue's Ark would be).

Ultimately there are theological issues at play here. Islam's take on the Koran is not the same as Christianity's take on the Bible. While I may hold the Bible to be the word of God, each individual copy is really just a book. You aren't defiling God by burning it, even if I wish you wouldn't. I have far more problems with how people quote the bible than how people display it.

Posted by: Jeff the Baptist at March 20, 2006 09:51 PM

I'm with Jeff and private. Throw the Muslims a crumb and put the dang book on the top shelf.

It is not as if putting "Lucky Charms" on a shelf above "Count Chocula" makes a bitch out of the count.

You know what I'm sayin ?

Posted by: jason at March 21, 2006 09:03 AM

One of the more bizarre blog stories yet!!!

Posted by: Nancy Willing at March 21, 2006 09:51 PM

A store which carries thousands of books should not possibly be concerned with where the books are on the shelf. If that were the case, the stores would be 3-4 times the size. Nor is shelf placement necessarily intended as "respect" or "disrespect."

Nevermind the fact that Borders shelves are usually pretty tall making the book harder to reach. If they intended the Koran to collect dust, it's a good strategy.

This is pure childishness, and the fact that Borders complies with ANY demands underscores their cowardice.

Posted by: Mark at March 30, 2006 05:39 PM

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