In a statement published Monday on the Shelf Awareness blog, American Booksellers Association Executive Director Allison Hill apologized for an incident in which Candace Owens Blackout it was accidentally introduced in place of a social justice oriented book of the same title by Dhonielle Clayton and other authors.
An employee replacing the employee who is normally responsible for curating the bestseller list, Hill said, unknowingly selected the wrong cover image for the book. A second new employee at proofreading was also unable to verify the photo and acknowledge the error before sending the list to members.
Apologizing for the employee mishap, Hill wrote, “It was a terrible mistake with terrible racist implications. However, based on our research and the demonstrated commitment to diversity, fairness and inclusion (DEI) of these individuals, we have no reason to believe that the action was malicious. “
Hill’s statement followed an official investigation into the episode and an audit of all ABA procedures and programs in collaboration with the organization’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.
“The employees are very apologetic and very committed to vigilance going forward. They have been held accountable and have agreed to receive training, both in procedures and in DEI, and we have added levels of checks and balances to this process, ”he continued.
Coinciding with the time of Blackout mistake was another event where Abigail Shrier Irreversible damage it was included in a box that was mailed to 750 eligible bookstores, sparking outrage from ABA leaders and members. In his apology Monday, Hill also clarified details about the shipment of that book, which an earlier ABA statement called a “serious and violent incident.”
The premise of Irreversible damage is that there is a social contagion effect of girls rushing to undergo invasive transitional surgeries and medical interventions for gender dysphoria that they are likely to regret later on.
Publishers pay ABA to put titles on the box and ABA ships them to eligible bookstores. Until now, no one has reviewed or vetted the titles submitted by the editors. It has been a pay-to-play program, ”he said. “The policy of not reviewing or filtering submitted titles is in line with the preference of many members that the ABA not decide which books they have access to, preferring to review the books themselves to determine what they read, buy, sell and promote.” .
Hill said many members told him that they still value having autonomy over book choice, “despite being horrified by this book.” He added that the ABA Board of Directors may implement a new permanent policy to avoid the kind of damaging oversight that let Owens’s book slip through the cracks.
Meanwhile, Hill said the books in the September box will be reviewed for acceptability by a team that will scale a problematic book that meets the United Nations criteria for hate speech to the organization’s senior staff. The UN definition of hate speech is “any type of communication in speech, writing or behavior that attacks or uses derogatory or discriminatory language with reference to a person or group on the basis of who they are.”
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