Australian police remove `American Psycho` book off shelves

Bret Easton Ellis’ `American Psycho` novel asked to be taken down from the shelves of bookshop by police request due to absence of sealed wrapper in Adelaide, Australia

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Bret Easton Ellis’ legendary novel “American Psycho” was removed from shelves by police request in Adelaide, Australia. It was discovered to be on sale without the required plastic wrapping.

In Australia, books with mature content can only be sold in shrink-wrapped plastic.

“American Psycho” is listed as an example in the relevant Australian legal classification code in accordance to the arts and culture law. As a result, when it was discovered that the book was on sale without the required plastic wrapping, Ellis’ novel became the subject of a police raid.

“American Psycho” is a novel describing the adventures of Patrick Bateman, a Wall Street worker and psychopath, through rape, torture, cannibalism, murder and necrophilia.

“American Psycho” was first published in 1991. Since its publication in Australia, the country’s classification laws have given it a “restricted classification” and declared it can only be sold “in a sealed wrapper and to adults.”

When the author of the cult novel Ellis was asked about his thoughts on his book being sold  in a sealed wrapper he said he loves it and added “I told my publisher I want all my books restricted and put in little bags. It’s like a little sandwich!’’

Co-owner of Adelaide bookseller Imprints Booksellers, Jason Lake stated that the latest edition, featuring an introduction from Irvine Welsh, arrived from the publisher without the sealed wrapper.

He added “I had a phone call from a lady on Tuesday who was quite aggressive and questioned why we were selling this classified product out of its wrapper. My defence was it came to us like this. There’s no way I would have removed the wrapping.”

Following the phone call, on Friday, Lake said the police came to the bookshop and asked him to remove the book from the shelves. “It was very gentle and polite ... I just think it’s ludicrous that this person complained about the book.”

The book’s publisher, Pan Macmillan, said that a small number of copies of the Picador classic edition of “American Psycho” had been released without shrink-wrapping “due to an unforeseen production error.”

A spokesperson for Books+Publishing said “When the publisher was made aware of the error, the problem was immediately rectified and copies of the title already purchased without shrink-wrapping are returnable.”

Police confirmed that they had taken action to remove the book from the shelves. They said “Police spoke with bookstore staff, who were very cooperative, and the matter was resolved to the satisfaction of police.”

TRTWorld and agencies