I am, of course, against the banning of books. As Banned Books Week makes us think about the titles that are pulled from library shelves due to pressure from various groups over their content, we should also consider the many more books that are prevented from ever existing because they are not deemed sufficiently commercial to attract the interest of publishers.
Yes, publishers wade through a lot of junk and do us all a service by keeping most of it out of the stores. Yet their marketplace notions about what readers will buy can filter out some original work that might have been a surprise hit, or which might have a devoted audience that is too small to be worthwhile to them. More books are kept from readers by marketplace considerations than are outright banned by bluenoses. We should lament both types of “banned books.”