Written by Alexandra Alter and John Williams
Before it had even been released, Woody Allen’s new autobiography, Apropos of Nothing, ignited a ferocious backlash.
Employees of Hachette Book Group, the publishing company that originally acquired the book, staged a walkout in protest. With remarkable speed, Hachette, which had planned to release the book through its Grand Central imprint, canceled the publication and returned the rights to Allen. While some applauded Hachette’s decision, others argued it amounted to censorship.
Now, another company, Arcade Publishing, has snapped up the book and is releasing it Monday, with a first print run of 75,000 copies. The publication of Allen’s memoir, which was reported earlier by The Associated Press, comes at a challenging moment for the industry, which is struggling with the economic toll of the coronavirus outbreak, as bookstores across the country close. While it seemed inevitable that another publisher would eventually take on the project, it was surprising that Allen resold it so quickly, in such a dismal retail environment.
In a statement announcing the publication, Arcade called the book “a candid and comprehensive personal account by Woody Allen of his life, ranging from his childhood in Brooklyn through his acclaimed career in film, theater, television, print and standup comedy, as well as exploring his relationships with family and friends.”
Jeannette Seaver, an editor who acquired the book, said that Arcade decided to publish the book not only on the merits of the material but also on principle, to take a stand against Allen’s critics.
“In this strange time, when truth is too often dismissed as ‘fake news,’ we as publishers prefer to give voice to a respected artist, rather than bow to those determined to silence him,” she said in a statement. “We firmly believe in upholding the right to freedom of speech in the world of publishing and, as a result, we’re pleased to support not only this terrific book but also — and even more importantly — this democratic principle.”
Arcade is an imprint of the independent publisher Skyhorse, a company that has been willing to court controversy in the past, with provocative authors like the attorney and commentator Alan Dershowitz, a frequent defender of Donald Trump, and the conspiracy theorist Jim Garrison.
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