Book Deal for Troll Harasser Spawns Debate: To Boycott or Not to Boycott?

Nearly a week after it was announced that the petty, self-obsessed bully and troll who was kicked off of Twitter for harassing a female star had garnered a six-figure book deal, the question of how to address his publisher continues to roil the publishing and literary community — at least the segment of it blessed with a conscience.

At the Guardian, the editor of the Chicago Review of Books, Adam Morgan, explains why his publication is essentially boycotting all titles, even the good ones, from Simon and Schuster.

And of course, Simon & Schuster has every right to increase [Milo] Yiannopoulos’s platform by publishing his book. However, free speech doesn’t protect anyone from repercussions in a free market. The literary community – and society at large – has the freedom to respond in kind. That’s why the UK division of Simon & Schuster has decided not to publish Yiannopoulos’s book. It’s why some professionals, such as author Danielle Henderson and audiobook producer Emmett Plant, are reconsidering their relationships with the publisher.

Some writers, editors and publicists have pointed out that our decision isn’t fair to hundreds of other Simon & Schuster authors who had nothing to do with the publisher’s decision to sign Yiannopoulos. I agree. It’s unfair. Simon & Schuster will publish some wonderful books in 2017 through imprints I admire, such as 37 Ink, Salaam Reads and Touchstone. But I strongly believe the literary community must hold the publisher accountable.

Morgan’s “imperfect solution” is being hotly-debated in the literary community; as in many situations, boycotts are thorny and complex political actions when taken to the cultural sphere. Alexandra Schwartz at the New Yorker suggests targeted complaints rather than a blanket boycott. “I’m not suggesting that readers accept the Yiannopoulos situation, ” she writes. “Publishing him is a cynical move by Simon & Schuster, one worth protesting vociferously and specifically, in e-mails, letters, tweets, and phone calls—you name it. “