United Kingdom

Simon & Schuster to publish Mike Pence books despite staff pushback

Simon & Schuster is refusing to bow to employees who tried to get the publishing giant to cancel former vice president Mike Pence's multi-million dollar book deal.

In a letter sent to employees on Tuesday, Simon & Schuster's CEO Jonathan Karp said they would be going ahead with Pence's two book deal in the wake of a petition from some employees that demanded they drop it. 

'As a publisher in this polarized era, we have experienced outrage from both sides of the political divide and from different constituencies and groups,' Karp said in his letter to employees. 

'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.

'We will, therefore, proceed in our publishing agreement with Vice President Mike Pence.' 

Simon & Schuster's CEO Jonathan Karp told employees on Tuesday they would be going ahead with Mike Pence's two book deal despite a petition from some staffers that tried to cancel it

The publishing company announced earlier this month that Pence had signed a two book deal. The deal, which would see the first book published in 2023, was estimated to be worth between $3 million to $4 million.

The news came on the same day Pence revealed he was back at work after undergoing surgery to have a pacemaker.  

Karp's decision comes less than a week after Simon & Schuster announced it was dropping plans to distribute a book by Louisville police officer Jonathan Mattingly, who was shot by Breonna Taylor's boyfriend during the raid that killed her. 

The book is being published by Tennessee-based Post Hill Press, which has distributing deals with Simon & Schuster.

Simon & Schuster released a statement following the backlash surrounding the book saying they had 'decided not be involved in the distribution'.

Employees started circulating a petition last week in relation to Pence's deal and the news of the Mattingly books. 

The petition called on the publisher to dump Pence's deal and vow not to sign any future deals with former members of the Trump administration.  

Part of the petition read: 'The events of the past week have affirmed that Simon & Schuster has chosen complicity in perpetuating white supremacy by publishing Mike Pence and continuing to distribute books for Post Hill Press. 

In a letter sent to employees on Tuesday, Simon & Schuster's CEO Jonathan Karp said they would be going ahead with Pence's two book deal in the wake of a petition from some employees that demanded they drop it

'By choosing to publish Mike Pence, Simon & Schuster is generating wealth for a central figure of a presidency that unequivocally advocated for racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, anti-Blackness, xenophobia, misogyny, ableism, islamophobia, antisemitism, and violence. This is not a difference of opinions; this is legitimizing bigotry.'

The petition said that by continuing to distribute Post Hill Press, even after canceling the book by Mattingly, the publisher was supporting and normalizing violence.   

It is unclear how many employees signed the petition.  

Karp went on to address the decision to not distribute Mattingly's book in his letter to staff, saying it 'was immediate, unprecedented and responsive to the concerns we heard from you and our authors'.

He added: 'At the same time, we have contractual obligations and must continue to respect the terms of our agreements with our client publishers.'

Karp also noted Simon & Schuster applies 'rigorous standard' to acquiring books 'regardless of where those authors sit on the ideological spectrum or if they hold views that run counter to the belief systems held by some of us. 

'The judgement each of us renders about particular books is inherently subjective. Discussing how we perceive various works is one of the joys of our business.

'When we share an enthusiastic consensus about a title, we are a positive and powerful force in the culture. When we allow our judgement to dwell on the books we dislike, we distract ourselves from our primary purpose as a publisher - to champion the books we believe in and love.'  

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