Simon & Schuster rejects employees’ call to drop Pence book deal
Simon & Schuster is standing by its two-book deal with former Vice President Pence despite an employee petition against it, the company’s president and CEO said in a letter sent to staffers Tuesday.
“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 in the letter, which was shared with The Hill.
“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,” Karp added.
Karp did not address when he first knew about the employee petition or how many people had signed it.
A spokesperson for Simon & Schuster declined to comment on the petition, referring questions back to Karp’s letter.
Pence could not be reached for comment.
On April 7, the publisher announced it had signed a deal with Pence for two books. The first, his autobiography, is scheduled to be published in 2023.
In explaining the Pence decision, Karp referenced Simon & Schuster’s recent decision not to release a book from Jonathan Mattingly, one of the Louisville police officers who shot Breonna Taylor. Simon & Schuster was to distribute the book for independent publisher Post Hill Press.
“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.”
He then asked employees to maintain perspective about the books the company is publishing and to realize not everyone shares the same opinions about signing controversial authors.
“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 wrote. “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.”
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
Simon & Schuster staff are not the first publishing employees to protest recent deals their companies made with high-profile authors.
In March of last year, Hachette Book Group employees walked off the job to protest the planned publication of Woody Allen’s memoir.
And in November, employees at Penguin Random House Canada complained when their company was planning to publish a “Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life,” the follow-up to the bestseller “12 Rules for Life” written by Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson.