Hello lovely readers, and welcome to Book Beat! It’s your Bookmarked editor Paige, delving into some very exciting news from the publishing industry. Well, exciting might not be the right word for it. Vacation is over, and so the quiet summer months have been replaced with a fresh, crisp veneer of controversy. It’s not too surprising, I suppose, since fall is a time of transition. I’m sure things will get better soon, but in the meantime, check out all the latest news you might have missed below!
Barnes & Noble versus Its Former CEO
After decades of surviving the slowly creeping monopoly of Amazon, it looks like Barnes & Noble is now tearing apart at the seams. On July 3rd, the bookseller giant abruptly fired CEO Demos Parneros without severance for unspecified company policy violations. Parneros has now filed a lawsuit in retaliation, charging B&N with breach of contract and defamation of character for several explicit reasons.
According to Parneros’ lawsuit, the vague nature of his termination has apparently led the public to believe he was facing sexual harassment accusations at the company. Not only does he refute this theory, but he further claims that the real reason for his termination was due to a recent fallout with B&N executive chairman Len Riggio. B&N was supposed to be sold to an undisclosed book retailer earlier this year, but the deal fell through in June. Riggio allegedly became “hostile” to Parneros after the failed deal and actively campaigned for his termination as a means to ensure the company’s survival.
In response, B&N released a statement claiming Parneros’ lawsuit is “nothing but an attempt to extort money from the Company by a CEO who was terminated for sexual harassment, bullying behavior, and other violations of company policies after being in the role for approximately one year.” Regardless of the validity of B&N or Parneros’ accusations, professionals in the publishing industry seem to recommend a smooth resolution for the sake of the company.
UK’s Eyewear Blinded By Publisher’s Bad Behavior
Not to be outdone by us American folks, a small press publisher across the pond has also been having a very rough summer. After six years in business, several successful international poetry contests, and the acquisition of an impressive repertoire of English language poets, UK independent publisher Eyewear Publishing briefly shuttered its doors a few weeks ago following the outrageous online behavior of its founder Todd Swift.
The debacle began on July 10th, where on his personal Facebook account Swift posted in all caps that, “I HAVE DECIDED TO CLOSE EYEWEAR. I SIMPLY CANNOT TAKE THE PRESSURE AND LACK OF FINANCIAL SUPPORT OR SALES. SORRY.” While the post was quickly deleted, about a week later Swift used Eyewear’s company Twitter page as the vessel through which he lambasted its own poets for sending their new manuscripts to “rival presses” and not defending certain poetry editors against sexual assault allegations.
When poets rightly called out these tweets, Swift responded through the Eyewear Twitter account that the small press has an extensive history of publishing women and writers of color. The author of these tweets further deflected criticism by stating that “every editor at [the] press is disabled in some way.” Of course, the Eyewear Twitter account was soon deleted, Swift briefly blamed a nonexistent intern for his tweets, and then deleted his online profiles following additional backlash. Eyewear then announced a temporary “suspension of all further poetry projects.”
Now that the online dust has settled, more substantial concerns have been coming to light about Eyewear’s business practices. Personally, Swift has been accused of verbally abusing poets. Meanwhile, the Society of Authors has also criticized the small press for its treatment of poets. The organization has specifically cited Eyewear’s contracts as “an unwarranted interference with [poets’] civil rights” due to multiple clauses that prevent Eyewear published poets from seeking industry advice from trade unions. It really sounds like Eyewear would do well with more time off and some much needed internal restructuring.
Lisa Brennan-Jobs Speaks Her Truth
One of the most highly anticipated items of the year is coming from the Jobs family, but this time it’s not an iPhone. It is instead an autobiography called Small Fry, in which writer Lisa Brennan-Jobs recounts her life growing up as the daughter of the late tech maverick Steve Jobs. The book itself came out just a few days ago, while The New York Times ran an exclusive profile and book preview a few weeks ago. Regardless of when you heard about the book, the fact remains that the subject matter has been a rather tough pill to swallow.
Brennan-Jobs’ portrayal of her father is that of a cold and cruel man, whose technological brilliance ran in stark contrast to his severe failings at establishing and nurturing an intimate connection with his daughter. At the same time, there seemed to be moments of genuine affection and apologetic honesty between the two. Overall, Brennan-Jobs considers her father a great molding force for the person she is today.
In contrast, popular opinion has certainly not been as kind. From The New York Times to Mashable to The New Yorker to USA Today to Business Insider, Small Fry’s reviews have focused on critical assessments of Jobs’ character and our cultural tolerance for the bad behavior of genius men. But as others such as Kirkus Reviews point out, this is ultimately Brennan-Jobs’ testimonial to tell, and it is done through beautifully articulated writing. If any indisputable judgments should come out of Small Fry, it should probably be that it is an example of personal empowerment in this more conscious era about women’s lived realities. Even if Brennan-Jobs failed to paint a compassionate picture of her father, she has more than proven the strength of her person-hood and legacy beyond him.
Out This Week
Dactyl Hill Squad by Daniel José Older
Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward
Impostors by Scott Westerfeld
The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle
Crudo by Olivia Laing
She Would Be King by Wayetu Moore