Penguin India issued a statement earlier today regarding its decision to pull Wendy Doniger’s THE HINDUS from sale in that country after a settlement that ended a four-year court battle. “Penguin Books India believes, and has always believed, in every individual’s right to freedom of thought and expression, a right explicitly codified in the Indian Constitution. This commitment informs Penguin’s approach to publishing in every territory of the world, and we have never been shy about testing that commitment in court when appropriate.” But, the company said, they have “the same obligation as any other organization to respect the laws of the land in which it operates, however intolerant and restrictive those laws may be. We also have a moral responsibility to protect our employees against threats and harassment where we can.”
While Penguin India said it stood by its original decision to publish THE HINDUS, “just as we stand by the decision to publish other books that we know may cause offence to some segments of our readership,” section 295A of India’s Penal Code will, in Penguin India’s view, “make it increasingly difficult for any Indian publisher to uphold international standards of free expression without deliberately placing itself outside the law.” They conclude the matter is “an issue of great significance not just for the protection of creative freedoms in India but also for the defence of fundamental human rights.”
Tangentially, Penguin Random House is also in the news over their Author Solutions subsidiary. UK trade magazine The Bookseller has said that it will no longer accept advertising from ASI and its network of affiliated entities. Editor Philip Jones told David Gaughran that “The Bookseller is no longer taking advertising from Author Solutions or its subsidiary companies. We’ve previously asked them to update the information they display about us on their websites, and have now asked them to remove it entirely.” Author Solutions had previously offered ads in the Bookseller to their self-publishing customers for the hefty price of up to £6,999, without making clear how much it paid The Bookseller for such services.
In announcements, literary agent Kimberley Cameron has launched Reputation Books with a Spring 2014 catalog of ten titles. The focus is on backlist works of her agency’s clients, though the inaugural list includes three frontlist titles. Cameron is supported by editorial director Elizabeth Kracht; managing editor Mary Moore; creative director Lisa Abellera; and marketing and publicity coordinator Ariel Giacobbe.