Losing Faith in Indigo’s Category System


For the non-Canadian: Indigo is part of the Chapters-Indigo bookstore megachain run by CEO Heather Reisman. For the Reisman-ignorant: Heather is responsible for annihilating tiny, independent booksellers and also for “Heather’s Picks”, an “Oprah’s Book Club”-wannabe merchandising campaign in which James Frey’s My Friend Leonard was prominently promoted, long after Oprah flayed Frey’s sorry, lying ass on her show.

Anyway. Let’s say you want to pick up Sam Harris‘s blisteringly fearless, intelligent and articulate deconstruction of religion in our modern world, The End of Faith. Quite reasonably, I think, you’d go to… the “Religion” section, right? Makes sense. Yet… No, you’d go to “World Politics”.

Sam Harris - The End of Faith Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion
Not books on “Religion”, apparently.

And let’s say you want to pick up the brilliant and articulate Richard Dawkins’s blisteringly fearless deconstruction of widely-held myths concerning a certain, mean-creepy, fictional character, The God Delusion. “Religion”? Sorry, wrong again. It’s over here in “Science”.

Now, I suppose that in some peculiarly-ordered (or functionally-retarded) minds, the fact that Dawkins is a scientist of considerable renown and that the Harris book’s subtitle does include the word “terror” might justify placement in the “Science” and “World Politics” sections, respectively. But you probably won’t find two more intelligent, reasoned, articulate and direct attacks on the irrationality of faith and the unreasonableness of religion and in the world today. I mean, “Religion”.

So, c’mon, Heather, put at least one copy of each in the “Religion” section. I know the whole James Frey thing threw you book-hawkers for a loop, suggesting a need for an “Assholes” section. I mean, it’s not like I’m advocating a recategorization of the whole “Religion” section as “Fiction”!

Although… that’s kind of a good idea, don’t you think?

4 Responses to “Losing Faith in Indigo’s Category System”

  1. 1 Ian

    This kind of arbitrary placement is done to pre-empt any religious controversy because, of course, religion is a monolith that must never be challenged. Pisses me off.

  2. 2 bstewart23

    I imagine they’re using some nightmare form of logic, in which the antireligious nature of these books somehow justifies barring them from the “Religion” section. Yet discussions of faith must logically include discussions of the absence of faith (and the belief that there simply is no god)! I’m awfully fond of pointing people in the direction of Penn Jillette’s terrific NPR essay, “There is No God”:

    Believing there is no God gives me more room for belief in family, people, love, truth, beauty, sex, Jell-O and all the other things I can prove and that make this life the best life I will ever have.

  3. 3 Glark

    If you can find Dawkins’s 2 hour Channel 4 show “Root of All Evil?” I recommend checking it out.

  4. 4 bstewart23

    I second that recommendation. The second half, The Virus of Faith, in which he likens religious upbringing to child abuse, is initially-controversial but, on reflection, entirely accurate. Another good resource — if a bit overintellectually stuffy — is Jonathan Miller’s Rough History of Disbelief.

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