Milford Readers and Writers Festival

Milford. Publishing professionals will discuss how book cancellations stemming from politics have affected their roles.

| 04 Sep 2022 | 04:08

Milford–Worried about Book Banning? It’s hard to ban a book before it’s published. And yet, you may still never get to read that book if the publishing house decides to cancel the book and not publish it. This is a different type of book banning. This fairly recent spate of author cancellations in the book publishing industry affects writers, publishers, literary agents, and readers. On Saturday, September 17, from 11:30-1:00pm, a panel of publishing industry professionals will discuss this issue of “Cancel Culture” at the Milford Readers and Writers Festival at the Milford theater.

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 or the NY Times best seller, “Secret City: The Hidden History of Gay Washington.” Brooke Warner, publisher of She Writes Press and author of three books about publishing, will moderate the panel. They will discuss how author cancellations in the industry have impacted their particular roles.

Some examples of well–known author cancellations are Hachette’s cancellation of Woody Allen’s autobiography , “Apropos of Nothing,” when their employees staged a vehement walk-out. The book was finally published by Arcade publishing. A similar scene occurred at Simon & Schuster when they announced their intention to publish Mike Pence’s memoir, “So Help Me, God.” Two hundred employees and thousands of outside supporters signed a petition demanding that the company not publish his book citing that he championed racist, sexist, and anti -LBGTQ+ policies. The company, however, will publish the book in November..

This trend of having (usually) ground-level employees voice their dissent and criticize management for decisions they think are immoral seems to be growing. Many attribute it to the “woke” movement –defined as people being alert to injustice , racism, and discrimination of any kind in society, especially in marginalized communities. The publishing industry is now being confronted by this type of dissent and looking at corporate accountability.

When Josh Hawley’s book was cancelled by Simon & Schuster in January, after the January 6 riots, he denounced the “woke mob” and vowed “to fight this cancel culture with everything I have.” His book, has now been picked up by the conservative publisher, Regnery Publishing.

The book 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 –first editor of Ms. Magazine–and author said about this book cancellation panel, “I’m anxious to hear how the “woke” consciousness has impacted the publishing world from the editors, agents, and publishers who are actually making the decisions about what books we will get to read.”