Dec 06 2006
As you may already have heard, this week ReganBooks (a Harper Collins imprint run by Judith Regan) were planning to publish a book by O.J. Simpson titled If I Did It, in which he planned to tell the world how he would have committed the murders if he were the one responsible.
No sooner was the book announced than booksellers started to condemn it. Nancy Olson owner of Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh, N.C., summed up the feelings of many with her comment reported in the industry press, "Do we take a 'stand' on such a book, thereby sending our customers who want to buy it to our competitors? Is this a form of censorship? Or do we make it available without displaying it other than having it on the shelf?" She added, "I'm disturbed to be put in such a position. Freedom of the press notwithstanding, the way they're marketing the book raises huge ethical questions. We all know the publishers are desperate to make money on commercial books, but this takes the cake."
Quail Ridge Books decision was to sell the book but donate proceeds to a charity that shelters battered women and children; many others reached the same conclusion. Others took a stand and cancelled their orders. These orders had been made "blind" because the publisher did not provide any specific information about the title at the time it was promoted to stores. Some bookstores even decided to change their policy and refuse to buy blind in the future.
Abebooks.com asked their booksellers whether they would stock the book, and of the 979 who responded, 96% said they would not. Even some within the Fox media Network (owned by News Corp who also own Harper Collins) expressed their disgust, including Geraldo Rivera (a case of the pot calling the kettle black!), and a few Fox affiliate stations refused to air the planned interview with Simpson.
On November 20th, 10 days before it was due to be released, Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News Corp, pulled the plug on the entire project, stating "I and senior management agree with the American public that this was an ill-considered project. We are sorry for any pain this has caused the families of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson." All books have been recalled and have or will be destroyed.
In an odd twist, it seems that the book might have contained far less than was being hyped. According to Yale Galanter, Simpson's lawyer, only one of the seven chapters dealt with the murder and he implies that Simpson's four children, including the two he had with Nicole Brown, approved the deal - whether this is the case remains questionable. A few days after Galanter's statement, Simpson told the Associated Press that he participated in the book and the planned TV interviews solely for personal profit which he called "blood money", and said that the book was not a confession. On her part, in an 8-page defense of the deal, Judith Regan says that the book was a confession, and as a battered wife herself, she would not have published it otherwise.
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