Oh, the places Dr. Seuss books will go after they ignite controversy.
This week, Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced that six books penned by the children’s author will no longer be published because of the “hurtful and wrong” ways characters of color are portrayed.
Now, Dr. Seuss books have soared to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list, occupying nine out of the marketplace’s top 10 books.
No. 1? “The Cat in the Hat,” followed by “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish” and “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”
None of the discontinued books feature on Amazon’s list. So, where did they go?
First, into the hands of fans
The six books – “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” “If I Ran the Zoo,” “McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!,” “Scrambled Eggs Super!,” and “The Cat’s Quizzer” – quickly sold out from booksellers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
While Dr. Seuss Enterprises has not announced the discontinuation of any other books, fans and collectors seem to be stocking up just in case.
And it’s not costing them much. “Green Eggs and Ham,” for example, sells for just under $5 on Amazon.
Dr. Seuss books currently make up about half of Amazon’s top 50 best selling books.
Then, to the corners of the Internet
On eBay, the books are selling for $4,000.
On Amazon, copies of “If I Ran the Zoo” start at $939 and climb to $5,000.
“The Cat’s Quizzer” can be yours for $875 – or for $1,600, if you can handle a book cover with “very modest rubbing.”
One listing on eBay – five of the six discontinued books for $2,500 – is averaging 63 views per hour.
The discontinued books became rare collectibles almost instantly, simultaneously igniting controversy over the enterprise’s decision to cease publishing.
The books portray harmful stereotypes
The discontinued books are not quite anomalies in Dr. Seuss’ career.
Ever since his days at Dartmouth College, he had been producing racist and anti-Semitic work. Drawing Black boxers as gorillas and leaning into harmful Jewish stereotypes, Dr. Seuss’ history of harm is longer than some may think.
In a 2019 study, researchers found that from 50 books, nearly all characters of color had Orientalist characteristics – that is, offensive depictions of Asia and Asian characters.
Dr. Seuss Enterprises wrote in a statement that it worked with a panel of experts, including educators, to review the author’s titles and decide on discontinuation.
“Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’s catalog represents and supports all communities and families,” the business wrote.