ABFE & Free Speech

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The American Booksellers for Free Expression (ABFE) is part of the American Booksellers Association's advocacy efforts for bookstores. All of ABA's free expression work is undertaken by ABFE. ABFE's current mission, informed by ABA's current Ends Policies, is to ensure that core member bookstores have the resources they need in support of their right to freedom of expression and that legal and regulatory policies reflect the interests of independent bookstores. All of ABFE's work will be done in a manner that demonstrates a commitment to antiracism, equity, access, and representation. In instances where bookstores' free expression concerns are outside of this focus, ABFE will connect bookstores with coalition partners that are best suited to address their specific needs.

NEW! Click image to view the ABA Right to Read Toolkit. 


Coalition Partners

While ABA financially supports the coalition partners, ABA focuses its efforts through ABFE. ABFE is grateful for the support and efforts of its partners. 

  • Banned Books Week Coalition. ABFE actively participates in the Banned Books Week Coalition (BBWC), attending the coalition’s monthly meetings and providing input on the annual event. Each year, ABFE compiles materials (largely sourced from the BBWC) to create and distribute Banned Books Week Kits to participating independent bookstores. 

  • Kids' Right to Read Project. ABFE coordinates with the Kids’ Right to Read Project (KRRP) — a part of the Youth Free Expression Program of the National Coalition Against Censorship — as a resource for bookstores faced with First Amendment challenges in their local schools and libraries. ABFE is regularly in communication with KRRP about booksellers’ free expression concerns. When bookstores come to ABFE about book challenges in their local schools and libraries, ABFE connects bookstores directly with KRRP. KRRP then works with bookstores to craft and send letters to their local schools and libraries. In addition, ABFE co-signs KRRP letters to schools and libraries on a case-by-case basis as long as the letters are in line with ABA’s current Ends Policies and ABA's commitment to antiracism, equity, access, and representation. To see letters that ABFE has co-signed as part of KRRP, click here.

  • Free Expression Network (FEN). ABFE participates in FEN, an alliance of free expression organizations formed by the National Coalition Against Censorship. FEN is first and foremost an information sharing group with members digitally sharing information and outreach between quarterly meetings. ABFE utilizes its membership in FEN to stay informed about future free expression issues that may affect bookstores.

  • Media Coalition. ABFE is a member of the Media Coalition, an association that protects the First Amendment rights of producers and distributors of media, such as books, movies, and magazines, through its legislative advocacy and in the courts. ABFE attends the Media Coalition’s monthly meetings to learn about potential legislation, lawsuits, and amicus briefs of interest to bookstores. Consistent with ABA’s current Ends Policies, ABFE only signs statements/memos, lawsuits, or amicus briefs that are directly related to bookstores’ needs and that are consistent with ABA's commitment to antiracism, equity, access, and representation. As a result, ABFE’s current work with the Media Coalition may, in some cases, represent a narrowing of ABFE’s work.


2023 Supporters to Date 

ABFE is grateful for its affiliate and publisher support:

  • Come from the Heart

  • Barnes and Noble, Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, Scholastic, and Simon & Schuster.

  • Independent Bookstores (Thank you to ABA Members who donated to ABFE when they renewed their membership dues. Your support helps make ABFE’s work possible, and conveys the value of this work to ABA.)


Free Expression Resources

Below are ABFE’s resources for bookstores. These resources are monitored for updates annually or sooner, if deemed necessary. Many of these resources are templates that can be customized by bookstores. 

You must be an ABA bookseller member to access ABFE's Free Expression Resources. Log in here.

Transparency Commitment

ABFE is committed to clearly announcing any updates to ABFE’s coalition partners, affiliates, resources, and work in ABA’s weekly newsletter Bookselling This Week, and to keeping the ABFE page updated as a resource for members.



ABFE encourages bookstores to email [email protected] with any questions or concerns. If you do not find what you are looking for on this page, ABFE can create additional resources or direct you to a coalition partner that is best suited to address your needs.


About ABA

The American Booksellers Association, a national not-for-profit trade organization, works with booksellers and industry partners to ensure the success and profitability of independently owned book retailers, and to assist in expanding the community of the book.

Independent bookstores act as community anchors; they serve a unique role in promoting the open exchange of ideas, enriching the cultural life of communities, and creating economically vibrant neighborhoods.


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