Hachette walk-out

Well, as noted yesterday while it was breaking, Hachette workers at imprint Little, Brown (publisher of Ronan Farrow’s #metoo book Catch and Kill) walked off the job in protest of another Hachette imprint buying his estranged father (and accused child molester) Woody Allen’s memoir. Before anyone cries censorship, I’d point out a few things: 1) protesting is not censorship, 2) it’s a publisher’s prerogative to publish or cancel what they wish based on market forces (both externally and internally) and these people who are invested in the success of their employer are illustrating what sort of response this book is going to get (ie, any given book or author has no “right” to be published), and 3) imagine working for a company that is so faceless and unconcerned about its authors that it can publish a book from the guy who allegedly abused one of their family members. And remember that part of the issue here is they did this secretly, hiding from Farrow that they were planning to acquire this title so he’d continue to publish and flog his bestseller with them. Underhanded. Writing is a solo endeavour; publishing, however, is a cooperative affair. The relationship between author, editor, and publisher is as messy and intense as any three-way (more like an orgy, given how many hands are involved — just hands), and having fun within it relies on trust and goodwill. Hachette has squandered that here.

(Photo by Brad Barket/Invision/AP)

The publisher said Monday that Allen’s book, titled “Apropos of Nothing,” would come out under its Grand Central imprint on April 7th. It described the book as “a comprehensive account of his life, both personal and professional,” that would cover “his relationship with family, friends and the loves of his life.”

But the announcement drew criticism because of the allegations that Allen molested his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow. He has denied the accusations and wasn’t charged after two investigations decades ago. A Hachette spokeswoman said in an email Thursday evening: “We respect and understand the perspective of our employees who have decided to express their concern over the publication of this book. We will engage our staff in a fuller discussion about this at the earliest opportunity.”

An employee at Hachette who participated in the walkout estimated that more than 100 protesters eventually gathered in Rockefeller Plaza, outside the publisher’s New York offices. The employee said that while the protesters were outside, others at Hachette met with Michael Pietsch, the company’s chief executive, to make three demands of him: to cancel the publication of Allen’s book; to publicly apologise; and to recognise that Hachette employees have the ability to speak up about books they disagree with without fear of reprisal.

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