In the aftermath of the January 6 riot at the US Capitol, a letter has been circulating within the publishing industry demanding that publishers refrain from buying books from anyone connected to the Trump administration. As of January 18, the letter had been signed by more than 500 individuals, primarily employees of publishing companies as well as some authors, booksellers, and agents.
The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) is deeply concerned by any attempt to limit what books get written, published and circulated based on the personal beliefs of a group of people who work in publishing.
Publishers, as private companies, can publish or not publish any author they choose without raising First Amendment concerns. But free expression is more than a legally-protected right– it is a fundamental human right. And it must include the ability to access all ideas and information.
Publishers serve a critical role in our democracy by disseminating the books that inspire public debate. These are the books that shape our future, and the debate is often bitter. But it is also essential for testing ideas. How can we argue if we lack the ability to encounter the ideas of people with whom we disagree? Publishers have a responsibility to publish a wide range of opinions, including those they dislike.
As individuals, the signatories of this letter have every right to express their political beliefs. We agree with them that there is important work to be done in diversifying the industry and the books it publishes. But the American people must have the freedom to buy the books they want. Democracy depends on it.