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Customer preference.

I take issue with the implication of your piece regarding Borders bookstore's shelving policies ("Color Coding," Outfront, May/June). The decision to shelve the works of minority authors separately is motivated neither by a desire to distinguish ethnic literature from general literature, nor to provide a privileged status to one group of writers. Rather, Borders' shelving decisions are motivated by customer convenience and a due respect for the diverse communities it serves.

I am a member of Borders' Diversity Task Force, along with the president of Borders, the company's top human resources official, and a member of the corporate board of directors. At our last meeting, we discussed the issue and while we were sensitive to perceptions that niche-shelving might appear to marginalize minority authors, we were also sensitive to the many customers who have expressed appreciation for the practice. We resolved, however, that individual stores should continue to monitor their customers' shelving preferences.

As your article acknowledged, individual Borders stores are authorized to cross-shelve books written by minority authors. Each store is then free to respond to its customers in a manner that best serves them.


Board of Directors

Center for New Black Leadership

San Francisco, Calif.

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Title Annotation:BACKTALK
Author:Jones, Brian W.
Publication:Mother Jones
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Jul 1, 1999
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