LDS Author 's Book Deemed Inappropriate
 Thursday, November 14, 2002 

    Nobody looked to Deseret Book as a source for steamy romance novels, 
but now even tame love stories face possible eviction from the shelves. 
    The LDS Church-owned chain of bookstores has decided not to stock 
copies of bestselling Utah author Richard Paul Evans' latest book, The 
Last Promise, because it doesn't meet new standards for moral content. 
    Evans, whose bestselling-author status began in his home state with 
sales of sugary, upbeat family-oriented stories such as The Christmas 
Box, covers new territory withThe Last Promise, released last week. The 
book is about an American woman living in Italy who, in the face of an 
abusive relationship with her husband, turns to another man for 
emotional support and, eventually, romance. 
    Evans said he is surprised by the negative reaction, especially 
since the affair between the woman and her male friend is never 
consummated. The theme is love, not sex, he said. 
    "The book is not about adultery," Evans, a practicing Mormon, told 
The Tribune in an interview last week. "The book would be a PG-rated 
movie, at the most." 
    Still, the themes were too much for new buying guidelines that went 
into effect a few weeks ago, said Sheri Dew, president and CEO of 
Deseret Book. The guidelines tell the store's buyers to avoid ordering 
books that clash with customers' values. 
    Though the process has just begun, store employees will eventually 
comb through all 250,000 titles in the stores' inventory to remove other 
books that might flunk the new standards, Dew said. Classics such as The 
Scarlet Letter or Jane Eyre will get the same scrutiny as new books 
under consideration. 
    The guidelines are based on recent customer surveys that said 
patrons, mostly members of the LDS Church, were upset when they found 
books at the store whose messages clashed with their values. 
    "This is completely a business decision. It's not a religious 
decision, it's not a moral decision. It's a customer decision," Dew 
    This does not appear to sever the relationship between Evans and the 
chain, which Dew estimates has sold more than 100,000 copies of his 
previous books. Deseret Book will continue to sell the earlier titles, 
and The Last Promise will be available by special order. 
    The decision also doesn't seem to have had a negative effect on 
Evans' enormous popularity in Utah, the setting of most of his books. 
Long lines formed at Evans' book signings this week at Borders and Media 
    "We were disappointed that Deseret chose not to sell the book, but I 
don't think it will hurt a thing," said Lisa Johnson, head of publicity 
at Dutton, Evans' publisher. 

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