Simon & Schuster will not cave to the left and cancel Mike Pence’s book contract the company’s president and CEO said in a letter to employees today. The company was under pressure from employees who objected to giving a two-book deal to former Vice President Pence and started an employee petition to get Pence canceled.
“As a publisher in this polarized era, we have experienced outrage from both sides of the political divide and from different constituencies and groups,” Jonathan Karp wrote.
“But we come to work each day to publish, not cancel, which is the most extreme decision a publisher can make, and one that runs counter to the very core of our mission to publish a diversity of voices and perspectives,” Karp said.
Karp explained the Pence decision by recalling the recent decision the company made not to release a book from one of the Louisville police officers who shot Breonna Taylor.
“That decision was immediate, unprecedented, and responsive to the concerns we heard from you and our authors,” Karp wrote. “At the same time, we have contractual obligations and must continue to respect the terms of our agreements with our client publishers.”
“For those who think some of our titles are a step backward, let’s appreciate the many Simon & Schuster books that are taking us two steps forward,” Karp said.
“Let’s also acknowledge that we don’t agree on which titles are taking us forward and backward! That tension — that push and pull — is a healthy part of the dialectic provided by classically liberal publishing companies,” he said.
Here is more on the employee’s demand. From Lithub:
The letter also calls out S&S’s recent two-book deal with former Vice President Mike Pence, pointing out that:
Long before his Vice Presidency, Mike Pence made a career out of discriminating against marginalized groups and denying resources to BIPOC and LGBTQA+ communities. From advocating for legalized discrimination against LGBTQ+ people, to eroding the teaching of science in favor of Christian theology in public-funded schools, to ending energy efficiency programs, to pushing for guns to be in schools and cars, to taking away funding for and shutting down clinics treating HIV patients, to promoting conversion therapy, to denying bodily autonomy to pregnant people, to abandoning a nation in crisis as the coronavirus ran rampant and killed more than half a million Americans.
Just as every individual must reckon with moral lines they will or will not cross, so too must any given publisher: Are you going to profit from the “controversy” around the extralegal murder of an innocent woman? Are you going to reward a politician who made a career out of denying fellow Americans their very identities?
Worker-driven resistance like this has become more common in publishing over the last year, with some limited but successful results (Hachette employees walked out over Woody Allen’s memoir deal).
Some Simon & Schuster employees have circulating a petition asking S&S to cancel VP Mike Pence’s two-book deal and end S&S’s distribution deal with Post Hill Press, which is publishing a book by one of the officers who shot Breonna Taylor. Today S&S said no to those demands. pic.twitter.com/GOo5GN69aQ— Elizabeth A. Harris (@Liz_A_Harris) April 20, 2021
Turns out a lot of Simon & Schuster employees don't agree that Mike Pence's story is one of "extraordinary public service." https://t.co/5IHETq5vYw— Literary Hub (@lithub) April 20, 2021