Authors Alliance and Fight for the Future have launched a joint petition calling on the major trade association to turn over a new leaf in 2023 by halting anti-library and anti-diversity practices.
Just in time for the holidays, Fight for the Future and Authors Alliance have launched a joint “wishlist” petition calling on the Association of American Publishers (AAP) to end actions that undermine the digital future of libraries and diverse authors. The wishlist follows Fight for the Future’s October Authors for Libraries letter, which organized over 1,000 authors, including Neil Gaiman, Hanif Abdurraqib, Chuck Wendig, and Naomi Klein, to decry the publishing industry’s attacks on libraries and suit against the Internet Archive.
The petition is now open for signatures from book lovers around the world at https://www.fightforthefuture.org/actions/2023books/
It reads in part:
“Instead of churning up animosity amongst publishers, authors, and libraries by taking these incredibly concerning actions, we ask that you take the following good faith steps. After all, there is legislation in 15 states that censors ideas and bans books that children and young adults, particularly students of color and those who identify as LGBTQ+, so desperately need access to. We need libraries now more than ever, and the past few years’ efforts to kneecap them for profit are in terrible taste.”
“We hope this holiday season will be a time of reflection for the lobbyists at the Association of American Publishers. While they bask in high-salary wealth, many families struggle to access books or travel to libraries,” said Lia Holland (they/she), Campaigns and Communications Director at Fight for the Future. “Up until this point, AAP has been the grinch that is stealing libraries’ rights year-round, acting in the interest of publishing shareholders and a very few wealthy authors. As a powerful trade association, their harmful actions and complicity are the keystone of a dangerous effort to terminate the rights of all libraries across the US to own, preserve, and loan digital books. We cannot let the AAP grinch our libraries any longer—everyone deserves robust, affordable access to and preservation of digital books.”
The petition demands that AAP take three immediate steps to heal the divide their actions and rhetoric have caused across the global community of authors, libraries, and book-lovers. The three steps and arguments for them are summarized as follows:
- First, AAP must stop acting as legal counsel for the publishers who are suing the Internet Archive. This suit would destroy the last avenue libraries have for owning and preserving digital books. By participating, AAP contributes to the erosion of libraries as an essential public institution in the digital age. Libraries are a critical avenue for access to books by diverse, midlist, and traditionally marginalized authors.
- Second, the petition demands that AAP halt its massive anti-library lobbying expenditures. For example, an organization that purports to be aligned with the interests of authors and readers shouldn’t be lobbying and then suing to destroy unanimously passed state laws that would secure fair licensing terms for libraries.
- Finally, AAP must stop celebrating public figures who threaten marginalized voices. In 2022, AAP awarded Senator Thom Tillis an Award for Distinguished Public Service. AAP should never have granted any historically anti-LGBTQ+ and pro-censorship public figure a major publishing industry award. They must immediately revoke this award to show solidarity with diverse authors and communities under threat of censorship.
“Authors care deeply about availability of their work, and strongly support the rights of libraries to preserve and provide access online,” said Dave Hansen (he/him), Executive Director of Authors Alliance. “We find it deeply disappointing that the leading publishers association, AAP, has decided to devote so much of its effort toward undermining the work of librarians, which ultimately harms both authors and readers. We hope the AAP will reverse course.”