Susanne Horman: Robinson’s Bookshop owner sorry for ‘white kids’ rant

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A Melbourne bookstore owner who complained that there were not enough books with “just white kids on the cover” has apologised.

Susanne Horman, owner of the Robinsons Bookshop, railed against the “woke agenda” in publishing last month in a series of posts on X, which have attracted widespread criticism after being shared by the Instagram account coffeebooksandmagic on Sunday.

Ms Horman, who purchased the business in 2007, has since deleted her X account amid the widespread backlash.

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“What’s missing from our bookshelves in store? Positive male lead characters of any age, any traditional nuclear white family stories, kids picture books with just white kids on the cover, and no wheelchair, rainbow or Indigenous art, non-Indigenous Australian history #weneedbetterstories,” she wrote in one X post on December 9.

The next day she added, “Books we don’t need — hate against white Australians, socialist agenda, equity over equality, diversity and inclusion (READ AS anti-white exclusion), left-wing govt propaganda. Basically the woke agenda that divides people. Not stocking any of these in 2024.”

She concluded in a follow-up on December 20, “So I am advocating for a substantial shift in the focus of Australian publishers to be in line with public opinion and requests for books and for what is GOOD! We aren’t going to stock books that intend to cause harm and make Australians hate each other.”

Sharing the comments, Emily Rainsford of coffeebooksandmagic wrote that she was “not one for willy nilly ‘cancelling’ but the comments … are so wildly out of pocket that I have no problem suggesting a widespread boycott would be appropriate”.

“She has not only said she wants more white people on covers and in books, but goes further to say that she won’t be stocking anything that … well, what, exactly? Isn’t about white people? And then somehow manages to claim that she’s fighting division,” she wrote.

“This kind of mentality has no place in the modern landscape and I truly hope it will eventually die out with the generation that’s as archaic as her website.”

Robinsons Bookshop first opened in Frankston in 1963 and now has seven locations including Werribee, Glen Waverley, Greensborough and Maribyrnong.

Ms Horman has since issued a public apology to staff and “anyone who was offended by the comments” which she claimed were taken out of context, The Age reports.

“We clearly state, so there is no misunderstanding, that we fully support and encourage stories from diverse voices, minorities and we are most definitely stocking these important topics and the authors that write them,” Ms Horman told the newspaper.

“As a business we will continue advocating for positive hope-filled stories that bring out the best in all our community and make all people feel supported and fulfilled … we kindly ask everyone to treat all of our staff with kindness and respect.”

Robinsons Bookshop did not respond to requests for comment on Monday and calls to its head office went unanswered.

frank.chung@news.com.au

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