Dr. Seuss Sales Skyrocket On Amazon After Offensive Images Controversy

For many of us, the works of Theodor Seuss Geisel (who we know as Dr. Seuss) gave us some of our most treasured childhood memories.

While books like Fox In Socks and The Cat In The Hat encouraged our imaginations with their colorful, creative illustrations and playful approaches to language, others like The Lorax and Horton Hears A Who taught us important lessons about respecting our planet and each other in ways that didn't make us feel lectured at.

But while The Atlantic outlined that even some of his political cartoons in the 1940s criticizing blind nationalism arguably put him ahead of his time, the truth is more complicated than that.

After all, his habit of depicting members of various races in ways now widely considered offensive caricatures were common practices at the time.

And while that habit has now led the company overseeing his catalogue to discontinue some of his books, it's also clear that the interest of preserving those childhood memories I mentioned has inspired a measurable reaction against this decision.

Last year, Dr. Seuss Enterprises decided to stop publishing six of Dr. Seuss' books after months of internal discussion.

As CNBC reported, the books affected by this decision are 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.

As a representative from the company said in a statement, "These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong. Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ catalog represents and supports all communities and families."

In the case of _And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street_, its inclusion on this list of discontinued books is likely based on this depiction of a Chinese person.


As we can see in a collection of Seuss' political cartoons from World War II provided by UC San Diego, the drawing style in this case isn't far removed from how he used to draw Japanese leaders in cartoons meant to vilify them.

Similar issues arose from depictions of Asian people in _If I Ran A Zoo_ but that book also features ape-like caricatures of Africans.


According to CNBC, Dr. Seuss Enterprises described the process they undertook before the decision to discontinue books with these images was formally made.

As their representative put it, "Dr. Seuss Enterprises listened and took feedback from our audiences including teachers, academics and specialists in the field as part of our review process. We then worked with a panel of experts, including educators, to review our catalog of titles."

But while the company coordinated their announcement with Seuss' birthday on March 2, it only took one day for the backlash to become apparent.

As Variety reported, this took the form of a massive sales spike for Dr. Seuss' works on Amazon as 13 of his books are now on Amazon's list of top 20 American best sellers.

As you might have guessed, both If I Ran The Zoo and And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street made that list at number six and 12, respectively. On Beyond Zebra! also came in at number 19, while Scrambled Eggs Super! reached number 14.

In addition to these skyrocketing sales, some older editions of And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, On Beyond Zebra!, and McElligot’s Pool are now being listed for prices ranging from $400 to $10,000.

Alongside this spike in sales for the discontinued books comes a more curious surge for books that aren't in any danger of sharing their fates.

Topping the Amazon best-seller list was Dr. Seuss’s Beginner Book Collection, which doesn't feature any of the stories set to go out of print. And according to Variety, Oh, The Places You'll Go was right behind it at number two, while The Cat In The Hat and Green Eggs and Ham respectively took the number four and five spots.

Also on the list were Dr. Seuss’s Second Beginner Book Collection — which also doesn't feature any of the discontinued stories — at number seven, What Pet Should I Get?, at number nine, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish at number 10, Fox in Socks at number 13, Horton Hears a Who! at number 18, and The Sneeches And Other Stories at number 20.

Whether this secondary spike was the result of fears that these classics may share the same fate as the discontinued six or just general nostalgia in response to the announcement remains unclear.

h/t: CNBC, Variety

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