Staff at the publishing house Hachette UK planned to boycott production on an upcoming children’s book by JK Rowling in an act of solidarity with the trans community.
On Sunday, June 15, staff members allegedly took a stand against the author’s anti-trans comments by refusing to work on her upcoming book, The Ickabog. However, following employees voicing their concern over JK Rowling’s “transphobic” tweets, Hachette UK released a statement confirming that they will continue production.
Hachette UK’s released statement reads, “We are proud to publish J K Rowling’s children’s fairytale The Ickabog. Freedom of speech is the cornerstone of publishing. We fundamentally believe that everyone has the right to express their own thoughts and beliefs. That’s why we never comment on our authors’ personal views and we respect our employees’ right to hold a different view.”
The first two chapters of The Ickabog were released online in May. Hachett UK’s statement continues, “We will never make our employees work on a book whose content they find upsetting for personal reasons, but we draw a distinction between that and refusing to work on a book because they disagree with an author’s views outside their writing, which runs contrary to our belief in free speech.”
Earlier this year, employees staged a walk out of Hachette’s U.S offices when the group acquired Woody Allen’s autobiography. This led to the publishing house cancelling the book’s release.
Detailing the meeting in which staff members voiced their concerns to publishing JK Rowling’s book, a source told the Daily Mail, “It was a handful of staff, and they are entitled to their views. If they were being asked to edit a book on domestic abuse, and they were a survivor of domestic abuse, of course they would never be forced to work on it. But this is a children’s fairy tale. It is not the end of the world. They will all be having chats with their managers.”
Regarding the staff members ‘chats’ with management, a Hachette UK spokesperson shared with the Booksellers, “We are approaching all the conversations with empathy and compassion and on a case-by-case basis.”
On June 2, the publishing house voiced their support for the Black Lives Matter movement on Twitter, “At Hachette UK, we stand against racism and discrimination of any kind.” However, in light of JK Rowling’s anti-trans speech, people are highlighting the double standards of this statement in the Tweet’s comment section.
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