Simon & Schuster employees are demanding the cancellation of former Vice President Mike Pence’s memoir and want their company to stop publishing books by authors associated with the Trump administration, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.
More than 200 employees — about 14 percent of the company’s staff — and more than 3,500 outside supporters have signed the petition that was formally submitted Monday. The company announced Pence’s two-book deal, worth somewhere between $3 million and $4 million, on April 7, and petitions began to circulate quickly. Chief executive Jonathan Karp said last week that the publisher would go ahead with Pence’s book in the name of preserving a culture supportive of different viewpoints.
“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,” reads the petition.
Simon & Schuster is a huge publisher of political books, including some about the Trump administration. Last year, S&S published former national security adviser John Bolton’s The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir, which details his 17 months in the administration. The publisher also released Trump’s niece, Mary Trump’s Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.
Despite Karp’s assertions, Simon & Schuster is not completely opposed to cancelling book rollouts, however. Most recently, it announced it would no longer distribute a book by Jonathan Mattingly, who was one of the cops involved in the killing of Breonna Taylor. The company has not elaborated on what caused it to make this decision, but rather released a simple statement saying, “Like much of the American public, earlier today Simon & Schuster learned of plans by distribution client Post Hill Press to publish a book by Jonathan Mattingly. We have subsequently decided not to be involved in the distribution of that book.”
And in January, the publishing giant canceled Missouri senator Josh Hawley’s book The Tyranny of Big Tech, after his attempts to overturn the November’s election results.
The business of publishing political memoirs by big-name Washington figures was once a bipartisan business—with the same publishing houses putting out books by superannuated members of Democratic and Republican administrations alike, often in deals handled by the same literary agents. But a future in which the higher-profile New York publishing houses shunned politically toxic veterans would not mark a complete break with the status quo, where there’s been a growing a parallel conservative-oriented publishing ecosystem led by DC-area imprints like Regnery, which wound up with Hawley’s book after it was cut by S&S. It just hasn’t typically been able to compete financially for landing the biggest names on the right.
And the right-leaning publishers may not be entirely economically distinct from the legacy houses: Regnery, publisher of the Hawley book canceled by S&S, has its books distributed by . . . S&S.
The S&S employees’ petition also asked that the publisher completely cut ties with Post Hill Press. This smaller publisher also focuses on conservative titles and has taken on authors like Matt Gaetz, the Florida congressman who is facing an investigation.
Meanwhile, a couple of upcoming books will probably focus the attention of people who want big publishers to shun Trump veterans—as well people worried about so-called cancel culture. While Pence has sold his book, former Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are reportedly shopping for major book deals.