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Margaret Atwood has had to release a fireproof copy of The Handmaid’s Tale

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Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to books. Maybe you prefer sleek hardbacks, favour the feel of a robust paperback, or shun physical copies in favour of audiobooks. Or maybe you like your books fire-proofed.

In an effort to raise awareness about increasing censorship and the rise in book-banning in US schools, author Margaret Atwood and Penguin Random House have released a single, fire-proofed copy of Atwood’s 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale.

The book has been crafted out Cinefoil, a specially treated aluminium product.

The specially commissioned, unburnable edition fetched $130,000 at Sotheby’s on Tuesday. Proceeds will be donated to PEN America, an organisation which advocates for free expression. “I’m very pleased that the one-of-a-kind Unburnable Book of The Handmaid’s Tale has raised so much money for PEN America,” Atwood said in a statement.

It’s even been tested by Atwood, who attempted to torch her own work with a flamethrower in a promotional video. “I never thought I’d be trying to burn one of my own books... and failing,” she said.

The seminal dystopian novel has often caused controversy and been banned and suppressed multiple times over the years. In 2019 it made the American Library Association’s list of most-challenged books.

Between July 2021 and March 2022, PEN America recorded 1,586 instances of individual books being banned in 86 US school districts.