Square Books offers discount in support of free speech

Posted on Aug 25 2017 - 8:03am by Jacqueline Schlick

Square Books is celebrating the First Amendment of the United States Constitution this weekend by offering its customers a “tax-free holiday.” The bookstore is applying a 7 percent discount on all book purchases since it is required to still collect and pay the sales tax.

The First Amendment, part of the Bill of Rights and enacted in 1791, prohibits the creation of any law abridging the freedom of speech or of the press. The bill was written by James Madison in response to the concerns of several states that their individual liberties were not being protected heavily enough. It is essentially a defense against restrictive governmental power.

“One could argue that the First Amendment recognizes rights that go to the essence of being American and keeping the United States a strong country,” Lyn Roberts, general manager of Square Books, said. “Of the several rights protected by the First Amendment, freedom of expression in print or otherwise is undeniably essential to a free society.”

The sale will occur at the same time as the weekend of sales tax exemptions for gun purchases, a Second Amendment holiday created by Gov. Phil Bryant during his first term. The bill gives Mississippi sportsmen an annual tax-free holiday “for firearms, ammunition, archery equipment, and certain hunting supplies,” according to the governor’s website.

“This tax holiday will help ensure Mississippians continue to enjoy our state’s great outdoor heritage for years to come,” Gov. Bryant said in an interview on his website.

Square Books hopes to see the state legislature adopt the same holiday for the sale of books in the future, a right the bookstore feels is just as innately human and respected.

“We hope that in the future, the state will officially recognize the First Amendment with a tax holiday as they have the Second Amendment,” Roberts said. “In any event, Square Books will continue to celebrate the First Amendment.”

This is the second year Square Books has hosted its tax discount, and it is something the shop hopes to continue no matter the state’s decision to make it an official holiday or not.

“As booksellers and distributors of the printed word, we want everyone to have access to whatever literature and ideas they are interested in,” she said.

Square Books itself is a celebration of the First Amendment. The bookstore has been a part of the Oxford community since its opening in 1979 and is part of Mississippi’s rich literary history that extends far before that.

“Square Books celebrates America’s history every day by making books available to all,” Roberts said. “Books on American history, world history, literature, politics, art, religion and any subject one would want to read about, whether for education or entertainment, are on our shelves or quickly obtainable.”

Square Books will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.