Books, Kids, Porn & Profits

Barnes&Noble

My kids love to go to Barnes & Noble. I wish it were because of the books, but truthfully, they love the toys (we’re more of a “library book” family). I realize the toy merchandise at B&N is 100% about making parents spend money, and I’ve not been terribly annoyed about this money-making strategy. I mean, my kids get enjoyment out of looking and dreaming, and that gives me a few minutes to browse the nearby shelves. I don’t buy the toys, and I rarely buy the books (again, library girl here). But if they want to sell toys to kids and parents, it’s fine by me.

But there is one money-making strategy Barnes & Noble has executed recently that gets extremely under my skin: Playboy magazine is now up front at the cashier desk, for every paying customer to see.

Playboy Barnes & Noble

Photo credit: Matt Walsh / Facebook

Playboy’s decision a few months back to remove nudity from it’s pages has pushed the brand front and center into the main thoroughfares. (For those that didn’t know about Playboy’s recent re-brand read this). For the blog I wrote about Playboy in airports, read this.


If you were to complain, you would hear these familiar PR lines, crafted by the marketing gurus at Playboy:  “It’s not pornography anymore. Playboy is a more conservative magazine which now features outstanding journalism and interviews.”


There are those of us (MANY of us) parents who hold the belief that sexual exploitation occurs even when sexual images are not fully nude images. A close-up of a woman pulling down her undies (or swimsuit?) is still most definitely sexual. 

Here’s the stance of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation on this issue: “Barnes & Noble should not be profiting from publications that are normalizing the objectification and dehumanization of women. It also sells several explicit, or hardcore, porn magazines at most locations.”

Barnes & Noble is not only completely disregarding the importance of defending the innocence of children with this product placement, it is also unscrupulously attempting to justify and defend their merchandising strategy as a free market one. This is not about consumer choice, this is about PROFIT.

Parents realize that large retailers offer all kinds of magazines that are inappropriate for children. They are in the magazine section, a part of the store we purposely don’t bring our children through. How does a magazine come from the back section to now be showcased to EVERY paying customer? Simple—Playboy Enterprises pays for that to happen. Barnes & Noble has sold your child’s innocence to the highest bidder, because, well… money matters. Especially when your company is trying to rebound from a steady downturn in profits.

So I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that the bottom line has led them to make decisions that would be harmful to their only non-paying customer: CHILDREN.

In an increasingly sexualized culture, the crimes of child sexual exploitation and child sexual abuse are at an all-time high. Magazines like Playboy are harmful to children because they push sex as a commodity and normalize pornography, which is in direct opposition to the efforts of parents and sexual abuse educators who are trying to help children understand that healthy sexuality always has boundaries and that your private parts should in fact stay… private. This is why sexual messages don’t belong in places where children can not avoid them. To intentionally bombard children with sexual messages is highly unethical.

On a recent Facebook Post by blogger Matt Walsh about this very issue, one person commented, “It’s only sexual if you make it that way.” To which Matt so cleverly answered back, “Playboy magazine is very intentionally sexual. I didn’t make it sexual. It is.”

Tonight, thousands of parents and kids will attend a special “Finding Dory” night at Barnes & Noble stores nationwide. If any purchases are made while they are there, these sexual messages will be waiting for their sweet kids. It’s upsetting and frustrating to think about.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

  1. Speak up at your local Barnes & Noble retail store. Kindly ask for the manager and explain that their decision to allow Playboy at the register is an affront to the families and children in your community. Let them know that you are concerned about the message they are sending to young people by normalizing and promoting sexually exploitive publications.
  2. Partner with the National Center on Exploitation in their efforts to get big businesses to change their policies about pornographic and exploitive materials. Sign the petition they have created for Barnes & Noble to change their practices on this page
  3. Share this blog post on social media, and rally the support of your community to bring change to your local retailers.
  4. Share your own thoughts and opinions on social media, tagging Barnes & Noble and using the hashtags: #parentswhofight or #pornharms. Here are ways to tag Barnes & Noble:
    • Twitter: @BNBuzz or @BN_Care
    • Facebook: just start typing @Barnes & Noble, and it should pull up the appropriate tag
    • Instagram: @BarnesandNoble

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