Downsize This!

Michael Moore says Borders bookstore hates him because he's a pro-union gadfly. They say he's blowing everything out of proportion.

After the Des Moines book-signing, Moore writes, he ran into a group of bookstore employees hiding in the shadows of the auditorium's parking lot. They were fearful they were going to be fired because they had attended the reading, they told him.

Again, Kohn says Moore is full of hogwash. "This is the Des Moines situation," she sighs. "We were getting media calls [about the controversy] by this point and were expecting a lot of press and cameras. We decided to staff this event with management. We didn't want to have booksellers in the position of having to be national spokespersons if there were media. But we gave them time off to go and paid for their tickets."

Last came the aborted Fort Lauderdale appearance. Contrary to Moore's claims, Kohn insists there was never any corporate directive to "ban" the author from appearing in Fort Lauderdale or at any other Borders. She says Moore's book-signing had never been confirmed and that it was the outlet's community-relations coordinator who decided to scrap the event. "The store was approached by the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival organizers and tentatively agreed to host [Moore]," Kohn explains. But when the bookstore canceled, the film festival organizers failed to inform him.

The dispute is particularly odd because Moore and Borders have historically had a close relationship. Moore recalls in his article that Borders, when it was a single store in Ann Arbor, carried his alternative newspaper when other stores refused. The author also kicked off his book tour with a speech in Ann Arbor sponsored by the company. And Borders has featured his book in two of its promotional publications.

According to Kohn, the president of Borders Group, Inc. has invited Moore to meet with him and settle their differences. Moore, who failed to return numerous phone calls for this story, has reportedly accepted the invitation; the sides have yet to set a date.

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