Thursday, February 20, 2014

Penguin, the Pulper -- Part II: Pulp my books, or face legal action!

“I no longer have the confidence that Penguin will stand by my book,” Mr. Varadarajan, a journalist and former editor of The Hindu newspaper, wrote. “I would be grateful if our contract is canceled, all remaining copies of my book with you are pulped, and copyright for the book is reverted to me so that I may freely distribute it electronically without the fear of any future, arbitrary withdrawal by Penguin in the face of pressure from the sort of intellectual bullies who have managed to have their way with Prof. Doniger’s book.”

In a statement on the Doniger case, Penguin — which withdrew the book before the legal case was resolved — cited a responsibility to “respect the laws of the land in which it operates, however intolerant and restrictive those laws may be,” and “to protect our employees against threats and harassment.”

But in his letter, Mr. Sharma, a professor of political science at the University of Hyderabad, struck back at that logic. If Penguin refused to cancel his contract, he wrote, he would “resort to legal action,” on the grounds that “my books published by you are grave threats to Indian law as interpreted by you and to the safety of your colleagues and employees.”

More here (citing this ToI story) on this fitting response to the shameful capitulation by Penguin India.


  1. Ungrateful Alive said...

    Chicken, sheep, penguin --- tree-chopping publishers don't make sense any more anyway. Hosting your manuscript off Google Sites, Dropbox, or GitHub is so much easier!

  2. Raj said...

    It is interesting to see all the outrage that has been expressed in this case. Especially when you contrast it to the other suppression recently which did not get as much outrage: Jitender Bhargava’s book The Descent of Air India. A sitting cabinet minister threatens court action and the publisher promptly withdraws the book. We did not hear any support for the author against this type of suppression from intellectuals (and Arundati Roy). So, it seems freedom of expression is an issue only when it is threatened by certain types of loons. Sad.

  3. Abi said...

    @Raj: You are mixing up claims of defamation with claims that some group or the other is offended. Nice try!

  4. Raj said...

    Do you really believe the defamation suit is the reason for the publisher to withdraw the book, especially given how long it takes to conclude these law suits? Method may change but goal/result is the same: suppression of someone right to air their opinion. It is unfortunate such hair splitting gets in the way defending free speech. And we moan and groan when one more capitulates. Familiar story.