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'Such a ban has never existed in my shop' - Norwich Book Hive responds to Woman in Black author Susan Hill's accusations of the store being 'anti-Trump'

PUBLISHED: 10:53 28 February 2017 | UPDATED: 10:53 28 February 2017

The Book Hive on London Street in Norwich. Picture: submitted

The Book Hive on London Street in Norwich. Picture: submitted

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An independent Norwich bookshop has responded with an open letter to claims by a well known author that the shop is 'anti-Trump'.

Author Susan Hill during a visit to Norwich. Photo: Bill SmithAuthor Susan Hill during a visit to Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith

Woman in Black author Susan Hill pulled the plug on the event at The Book Hive on London Street - before publishing a fierce attack on it on the website of The Spectator.

Ms Hill, who lives in north Norfolk, said: “I do not expect a bookshop to have posters and a Twitter feed and a Facebook page telling me it is so against what the President of the United States stands for/believes/is/is doing that it is stocking only books devoted to those writers who oppose him too, and what is more, will give them away free.

“Needless to say, the opposite is also true. You will not find Donald Trump’s autobiography here, or anything by those authors known to support/admire/have voted for him.”

She added: “This is a form of censorship and, of all places, a bookshop (like a library) should never ever indulge in that.”

The Book hive has now responded with an open letter on their Facebook page, which has been sent to The Spectator, defending their decision to only stock certain books.

The letter, written by owner Henry Layte, states: “Firstly, I need to clear up some facts before addressing the heart of her argument. She claims that we are “stocking only books devoted to those writers who oppose him” (Trump). This is not the case and I would ask her to point out where that aim has been stated by us.

“She also adds “You will not find Donald Trump’s autobiography here, or anything by those authors known to support/admire/have voted for him” True – the autobiography (it can be ordered and would be if anyone wanted it) is not in the shop, but a number of books about him are, by journalists and biographers who have opinions to write about.

MORE: Woman in Black author Susan Hill accuses Norwich Book Hive of ‘censorship’ and being ‘anti-Trump’ as she cancels her book signing

“She expounds about how, were she a bookseller, she would not ‘ban’ - as I apparently have - books whose authors are of differing opinions from her own, nor would she refuse to order them in for people, as it seems I am also guilty of, as well as interfering with my customers ability to browse and choose books. Such a ban has never existed in my shop. She would know this had she ever visited, which she hasn’t.”

US President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)US President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The letter goes on to mention how the collection of books in the store reflects the “prevailing political temperature” of the city and that the store will order anything in for the next day - to an extent.

“But we won’t order everything for people. Over the years a number of people have asked if we keep Mein Kampf, and on being told ‘No’, ask if we could get it,” the letter adds.

“Now it seems that according to Ms Hill’s argument, we should order that book in for people as good business practice. But we don’t, and wont, because for one, it isn’t the kind of material we want to promote, and two, I don’t want to make a profit for my pocket by selling fascist works.

“So yes, in that case, I am expressing a political opinion through my business.”

The Book Hive said in an earlier statement that they lost a not insignificant amount of money in returned ticket prices and wasted advertising.

The letter adds: “She has tried to use our fairly innocuous involvement in a local enterprise to give weight to her political views in the press.

“As I said on social media to the EDL when they started their Norwich march outside the shop and half an hour later were back again, looking a little afraid with their tails between their legs; sorry – you lose.”

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