Discontinued Dr Seuss books with 'racist imagery' selling for hundreds of dollars on Trade Me

Several Dr Seuss books that were pulled from further publication over their "racist imagery" are selling for hundreds of dollars on Trade Me.

Dr Seuss Enterprises, which represents the late author and illustrator, made the announcement earlier in March to discontinue some titles. The stories were pulled from print because of the way characters of Asian and African ethnicity are depicted.

The books that are no longer being published are And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, If I Ran the Zoo, McElligot's Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super!, and The Cat's Quizzer.

As of Monday, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street is listed for $480 if someone wants to buy it now, making it the most expensive out of all discontinued Dr Seuss books currently on Trade Me. Earlier in March, one copy of this book sold for $325.

A copy of The Cat's Quizzer is on sale for $350 and another is listed at $290, a listing for Scrambled Eggs Super! has a buy now price of $249, and a copy of If I Ran The Zoo recently sold for $120.

And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street is the most popular of Dr Seuss's discontinued books in terms of the number of items listed.

James Ryan, Trade Me's policy and compliance manager, says they won't be taking any action on the listings of discontinued Dr Seuss books. He says they allow items to be sold on Trade Me that can be legally sold in New Zealand, but they have rules around offensive items being sold. In the past, they have banned the sale of Confederate flags, Golliwogs, and Jolly money boxes - "items which promote or glorify offensive beliefs or ideologies".

"We understand that some of the imagery and/or language in books from the past is not acceptable in 2021 but we're not going to make that decision for Kiwis. They can decide themselves if they want these books or not," Ryan says.

"These books, and many many others, with ideas or language that is not appropriate now, can be legally sold in New Zealand and we'll continue to allow them to be sold on Trade Me."

Ryan adds there haven't been any complaints about the listing of Dr Seuss recently discontinued and they've received "next to no contact" about these titles since the announcement they would no longer be printed.

Trade Me's regulations on "offensive items and memorabilia" don't allow people to list items "that, either in themselves or by description, promote or glorify racial, sexual, religious or other intolerance, hatred or violence, or that promote organisations with such views".

In particular, this includes Confederate flags, Golliwogs, Jolly money boxes, some Nazi and Nazi-related items, and reproductions of racially or ethically questionable historical items.