The Latest Publishing Scandal
Like many people in the book business, I was absolutely appalled when I heard that Harper Collins was publishing a book by O.J. Simpson titled "If I Did It", a "hypothetical" account of how he might have committeed the Nicole Simpson Ron Goldman murders. If I did it? Are they kidding? A major disgrace, going for huge controversial sales over how a man killed his ex-wife and her lover - hypothetically of course.
Then yesterday, an interesting turn of events - Harper Collins pulled the book and said that it would not be sold. I read today that copies already out there will be recalled and destroyed. This is a fascinating move, because it's not just turning back and deciding not to publish a book. the book's already published, it's in a warehouse waiting to be distributed. the money has been spent. Recalling it is a major move at this juncture - but the entire book and publishing world is applauding it - thank God there is still some morality in this industry. Here's a bit from an article by Sara Nelson of Publishers Weekly on the matter:
"All this, I think, is good news for the publishing business, and for books in general: it proves that there are limits to what a publisher is willing to do to sell books; and it proves that people care about what those books promote or evoke. Never mind that booksellers, and publishers, for that matter, routinely make choices about what to sell and publish—nobody is required to endorse everything, after all—the decision is good public relations. While it could be argued that pulling the book because of public pressure is just a reverse sort of pandering—"Give the people only what they already want" turned "Don't give them anything they don't want"—it also just might help reverse the disturbingly prevalent opinion that publishers, especially big publishers, are soulless gatekeepers only out for the money. "The people spoke and shunned the book," one executive said. "That means that books matter."
It used to be that publishing declared its morality, its values, its world view by the books it chose to publish. Now, it seems, the business declares itself by what it refuses to publish.
I admit it's a weird turnaround. But, hey, I'll take it."
Glad this got nipped in the bud before it went any further.