I hold the annual dues bill from the American Booksellers Association with trepidation each year. It seems like such a large chunk in the slow winter months when I could send that money in so many other directions. So I annually reevaluate the decision to participate. I do love the Indie Next Lists we offer to customers, the Book Page reviews, and bookstore news though, so I eventually send off my check.
The ABA is also a strong and active voice to protect free speech, something we have become a little complacent about. Stir up some controversy though, and we remember how fragile the right to free speech really is.
With the cancellation of Simon & Schuster publishing contract with “conservative firebrand” Milo Yiannopoulos for his book Dangerous, due out in June, the ABA published a thoughtful and appreciated article in its bookseller newsletter on the topic. Some booksellers were boycotting Simon & Schuster for agreeing to publish the book, which of course is a protected First Amendment right, but one that may cause publishers to limit their taking on controversial topics in the future. I don’t want to read Yiannopoulos’s book, I probably wouldn’t stock it in the store, I don’t even know why his views should interest me. I resent the label conservative being linked with hatefulness. But the controversy could just as easily be over something else – Harriet Beecher Stowe and Nelson Mandela were controversial. Wendell Berry, a writer I adore, is an activist, sometimes angrier than others, and I would be devastated if his work went unpublished. Obviously this is just a simple little example of a giant topic, but I’m glad the ABA is taking the principled stand they have.
Below is the summation of ABA’s statement. I can only respond with “Well put and thank you, my check is on its way.”
Simon & Schuster Cancels Yiannopoulos Book | American Booksellers Association