Posted by: thescoundrel | August 20, 2008

Random House Inc. Pulls the Book – The Jewel Of Medina


Random House Publishing is evidently in need of a clean underwear change. After printing a book, scheduling a book tour for the author and sending out copies of the book to stores for the signing tour – they have pulled a book that was scheduled to be an August book of the month selection, off the market indefinitely. They have even given the author, Sherry Jones, a $100,000 advance while also allowing her to seek another publisher. Ouch – that is a lot of money to basically subsidize competition publishers! So what has managed to get the underwear of one of the World’s largest publishers all soiled? It seems that Ms. Jones book, The Jewel of Medina, is about A’isha, the nine year old bride to the prophet Mohammad. According to the publishers, they had last minute worries that the book might offend Muslims with its suggestive portrayal of events like the consummation of the marriage when she turned 14. One critic claims it was little more than soft core porn. I suppose I could see where a book glamorizing the historic relationship that would be considered a case of pedophilia in modern society, might upset some people. And granted in modern society we would arrest the man, toss him in jail and castrate him if we had the chance. Still the underage marriage/sex story is not exactly breaking news, especially considering that time frame. The company stated they were worried the books release might incite violence among the Muslim population. The author claims that there was not any suggestion of violence over the release. Nor did she feel that most Muslims would be offended by her work. Hmmm that would be a rarity –>a publisher worrying about a book they are printing offending someone! The threat of violence did not seem to stop Viking Press from the publishing of Salman Rushdie’s 1988 book, The Satanic Verses. That book was supposedly inspired by the life of Mohammad and was the reason for numerous death threats upon the author, Rushdie. No I am inclined to think like Ms. Jones, that there was other reasoning behind the publishers decision to stop the presses. I am more inclined to think that someone high-up in the Muslim community that was offended by the book found an insider way to stop the books promotion! Whatever the reason – Random House has allowed itself to be bullied and has actually censored itself and the author by refusing to distribute and promote a book, that it and the author have already invested a great deal of time and money in creating! So much for artistic integrity at the publishing level.

Link to the full story.

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Responses

  1. Uh, why were you looking for artistic integrity from a publisher? They are required by a duty to their shareholders to put making a profit above all else, right?
    It seems to me that you are looking for integrity in all the wrong places.

  2. I am looking for both from a publisher. As I stated the book was scheduled to be the August Book of the month. There was a good chance this book would have made the company tons of cash for the stockholders. It smells of profit! Heck they would have sold untold thousands just to whacked out radicals that would have burned them. That would have only added to the controversy and probably boosted sales even more. There have been far more controversial books than this one printed. They were not worried about violence, someone-somewhere was putting financial pressure on their necks.

  3. ‘…someone-somewhere was putting FINANCIAL pressure on…’ Your argument does not make any sense! If someone was putting financial pressure on them then that was a threat to their profits, right? Someeone was threatening to cut into their profits if they published the book. So which one is it? Would publishing the book have been profitable or not?

  4. Random House should have known this would happen and the fact they thought they could/would get a pass from the radical islamists indicates serious cluelessness at some level of this publishing company.

    Salman Rushdie, the Danish cartoons—sheesh, there are examples aplenty about the intolerance of the islamists.

  5. I agree QCEx, bean-counters for the company would already have figured all that out or they would not have went as far on the deal as they already had. Someone inside either got cold feet, a possibility or someone found a way to pressure the company, most likely financially.

    Dave I have to believe a company as big as Random had already figure out the cost/risk factors. They had too much money in the deal not to have already looked at past history and compared it to potential profits. I have never been in the publishing business but no major business is going to enter into this type of risky venture unless they see $$$. Heck Ford’s bean-counters knew way ahead of the process of what they would lose in lawsuits over the Pinto’s exploding gas tanks. That is there job. That does not leave many other options. They could have just gotten cold feet, but I do not buy that as a last minute reasoning. I tend to believe, and it is just my personal guesstamation from watching and working for businesses that make unprofitable decisions based on pressure of insiders that had the financial clout to steer the direction the company takes. Those people are often looking out for self-interest rather than what is best for the company. And if you are one of the people in the company that have that kind of clout, the company executives dance the musical program you give them.


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