According to some workers (these workers maintain their anonymity due to their jobs at the bookstore) at Powell's Books, Michael Powell the owner of Powell's Books who was also known for his union busting strategies when his minimum wage employees tried to organize themselves for better working conditions; and whose desired goal is to put out of business as many independent bookstores as possible in the Portland area, is now commencing a policy of corporate censorship. Recently Boss Powell sent out a directive to the stores stating that books deemed "pornographic," which includes various books of erotica and art books containing nudity, must be kept within glass cases; hence customers wishing to look at the books have to ask permission from a sales person, so that the attendant can unlock the glass case. The directive states further that those same books under glass casement, if they do not sell within a month probabationary period, Powell's Books will no longer sell them.
This directive is obviously an attack on free literary and artistic expression. What is most hypocritical about this directive is that Michael Powell proclaims himself and "his bookstore" as defenders of free expression. This directive obviously contradicts his various public statements in the past on the importance of the 1st Ammendment of the US Constitution. What should concern writers, especially those writers who hold public readings at Powell's Books, is that the owner has serious fears of being harrassed by either some powerful politician who might want to take on the role of a "moral defender," or by certain "moral watchdog" groups that might enter a court action against his bookstore. Powell's Books, for all the owners self-proclaimation on the "defense of freedom," is really a corporate enterprise: legal insurance is more important than art. Still most puzzling is the silence of the employee's union concerning this new directive aimed at censoring some authors who sell their books in his bookstore.