Milford — Worried about the book ban? It is difficult to ban a book before it is published. And yet, you will still never be able to read this book if the publisher decides to cancel the book and not publish it. This is another type of book ban. This fairly recent wave of author cancellations in the book publishing industry is affecting writers, publishers, literary agents, and readers. On Saturday, September 17, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., a panel of publishing industry professionals will discuss this ‘Cancel Culture’ issue at the Milford Readers and Writers Festival at the Milford Theatre.
The Panel will include Jamie Rabb, Publisher-at-Large, Macmillan Publishing Group, LLC; Regina Brooks, founder and president of Serendipity Literary Agency, and James Kirchick, author of the NY Times bestseller, “Secret City: The Hidden History of Gay Washington.” Brooke Warner, publisher of She Writes Press and author of three books on publishing, will moderate the panel. They will discuss how author cancellations across the industry have impacted their particular roles.
A few examples of well-known author cancellations are Hachette’s cancellation of Woody Allen’s autobiography, “About Nothing,” when their employees staged a vociferous walkout. The book was eventually published by Arcade Editions. A similar scene occurred at Simon & Schuster when they announced plans to publish Mike Pence’s memoir, “So Help Me, God.” Two hundred employees and thousands of outside supporters have signed a petition demanding that the company not publish his book citing that he advocates racist, sexist and anti-LBGTQ+ policies. The company will, however, publish the book in November.
This tendency to (usually) have ground-level employees disagree and criticize management for decisions they deem immoral seems to be growing. Many attribute it to the “woke” movement – defined as people who care about injustice, racism and discrimination of any kind in society, especially in marginalized communities. The publishing industry is now facing this kind of dissent and is looking at corporate responsibility.
When Josh Hawley’s book was canceled by Simon & Schuster in January, following the Jan. 6 riots, he denounced the “woke mafia” and vowed “to fight this cancel culture with everything I have.” His book has now been picked up by conservative publisher Regnery Publishing.
The publishing industry is at the center of this debate. Suzanne Braun Levine, one of the co-founders of the Milford Readers and Writers Festival, and herself a well-known editor – Ms. Magazine’s first editor – and author, said of this cancellation panel of books: “I can’t wait to hear how the ‘awakened’ consciousness has impacted the publishing world from the publishers, agents and editors who actually make the decisions about the books we’re going to read.