Earlier this week, it was announced that Hachette Book Group had bought the rights to Woody Allen’s memoir, “A Propos of Nothing,” and was scheduled to release the book next month. As you might expect, any book company that decides to release Allen’s memoir is going to open itself up to criticism and debate, as the filmmaker has been at the center of #MeToo controversy for his comments about the movement, as well as the decades-old sexual abuse case against him. But Hachette Book Group probably wasn’t expecting the full extent of what it experienced in the days after.
According to THR, Hachette Book Group has decided to give the rights back to Allen for his book, “A Propos of Nothing,” after the publisher received an immense amount of criticism from folks upset over the announced (including Ronan Farrow), as well as the massive walkout staged by its employees. In a statement, the company said it was a “difficult” decision.
Hachette’s statement continued, “At HBG we take our relationships with authors very seriously, and do not cancel books lightly. We have published and will continue to publish many challenging books…Over the past few days, HBG leadership had extensive conversations with our staff and others. After listening, we came to the conclusion that moving forward with publication would not be feasible for HBG.”
As alluded to, the controversy surrounding Hachette Book Group intensified shortly after the announcement of Allen’s memoir, as Ronan Farrow publicly condemned the move. Farrow not only is the brother of the filmmaker’s accuser, Dylan Farrow, who claims the director sexually abused her when she was a child, but he’s also a writer that has been at the forefront of the #MeToo movement, with his investigation into Harvey Weinstein. And compounding things even more, he’s also the author of the novel, “Catch and Kill,” which was released by…Hachette Book Group.
The final straw seems to be the employee protest that happened yesterday, which saw dozens of Hachette Book Group workers walking out due to the decision to publish Allen’s book. This led to HBG saying the company would engage with its employees to discuss the decision. And now, as we know, the publisher has reversed course.
It’s unclear where Woody Allen will take his book next. But the next publisher will probably have a bit of hesitation given what happened with Hachette Book Group.
Here’s the full statement from Hachette Book Group:
“Hachette Book Group has decided that it will not publish Woody Allen’s memoir A Propos of Nothing, originally scheduled for sale in April 2020, and will return all rights to the author.
“The decision to cancel Mr. Allen’s book was a difficult one. At HBG we take our relationships with authors very seriously, and do not cancel books lightly. We have published and will continue to publish many challenging books. As publishers, we make sure every day in our work that different voices and conflicting points of views can be heard. Also, as a company, we are committed to offering a stimulating, supportive and open work environment for all our staff. Over the past few days, HBG leadership had extensive conversations with our staff and others. After listening, we came to the conclusion that moving forward with publication would not be feasible for HBG.”