The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret AtwoodIt's not an epic event like the Olympics, or even on the level of Free Comic Book Day or National Novel Writing Month, but founder John R.R. Leavitt hopes that he can start a movement. He is declaring November 18th 'International Science Fiction Reshelving Day,' or ISFRD.

He's even created a website in support of his mission. The idea is pretty simple: On November 18, science fiction and fantasy fans all over the world are to head for their local bookstores and grab up all the genre books from other sections and shelve them in the science fiction section.

For example, in many bookstores, George Orwell's 1984 and the works of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne are in the Classics section. Meanwhile, the works of Michael Crichton, including Sphere and Jurassic Park are in Fiction. You'll also find Stephen King's The Dark Tower there, if the store doesn't have a Horror section. The problem is that these are all science fiction works.
It's an act of quiet protest. But, while it's not illegal per se, I don't imagine most bookstores would be too thrilled if you were traipsing through the stores with giant stacks of books and moving them to the Science Fiction section. It's also incredibly unlikely to have any sort of impact unless Leavitt can truly get a tremendous global response to his call for action.

Here's what the founder of this movement has to say about it:
Many books from our fine genre are regularly placed in the wrong section of bookstores. This not only hides the books from us, but it prevents readers of those books from discovering the rich tradition to which they belong.

On November 18th that changes. We will go to bookstores around the world and move science fiction and fantasy books from wherever they might be to their proper place in the "Science Fiction" section. We hope that this quiet act of protest will raise awareness of this problem and inspire new readers to explore our thought-provoking genre.

He goes on to explain that there are fans of science fiction books who have no idea what else is in the field, because they're finding their books in other sections of the store. And there are fans who shop in the science fiction section who aren't finding all of these amazing books because they're "too good" to be classified there. He even provides a partial list of the offending titles.

It's something I've been bothered with for years in my local bookstores, but never really thought about it much beyond that. I've thought the same thing in television about a show like Lost. It's clearly a science fiction series, and yet it is constantly classified as a drama. This is because science fiction in television, like in bookstores, is generally looked down upon by the "snobbery."

In fact, that's even why ISFRD chose November 18th as the day to do this each year. It's the birthday of author Margaret Atwood. At first, I was thinking they should go with H.G. Wells or Jules Verne's birthday considering their significance in the field, but after reading their FAQ section about Atwood's own snobbery about her science fiction books being classified science fiction, it makes sense.

So what do you think about this whole idea? Is Leavitt just crazy and should leave well enough alone, or does he have a point? Could this actually work?

Are there any books that have bothered you as to where they're classified in the bookstore, or do you not think about things like this?

categories Features, Sci-Fi