Tuesday, November 21, 2006

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.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Eric Carroll said...

Hey Jenn, I've been following this story with a bit of a chip on my shoulder since I first heard of it. You are correct, its appalling. However, in my opinion the main problem is that it DIDN'T get 'nipped in the bud' as you say, since it got as far as it did. It seems to me that even though it is a GREAT thing that this book will never be seen and the TV special will not air, (and maybe even better on a cosmic karmic level is the hope that not only will they not profit on this idea, but rather loose money), I can't applaud them for doing what they should have done in the first place... Sorry to directly rip-off the end of the movie Quiz Show, but unfortunately, its frighteningly appropriate... I hate this idea, and I hate that it got as far as it did and even worse is all the publicity that Simpson and Co. are getting over it. Hopefully this will leave us all so sick of the man and his story that this never comes up again on this scale...

12:13 PM  
Blogger Abbey said...

I completely agree with you, Jen. It shouldn't gotten as far as it did. The publishing company must've gotten so much slack about that they "suddenly" changed their mind.

1:37 PM  

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