In a note sent late Wednesday, the CEO of American Bookseller’s Association, a non-profit trade association that promotes independent bookstores, apologized for accidentally including a cover image of Candace Owens’ book “Blackout” in a publicity post on its website.
Calling Owens’ book “racist” and equating it to “violence,” Allison Hill said the post, uploaded on July 7, was intended to promote the work of black fiction writers. The book the ABA meant to highlight was a collection of teen romance stories with the same title by Dhonielle Clayton, Angie Thomas, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon.
As Publisher’s Marketplace reported, Hill begged forgiveness for the error, calling it an “egregious, harmful” act that caused “violence and pain.”
She then promised that the 121-year-old organization will put new processes in place to prevent mistakes like promoting conservative African-American authors from happening again in the future.
“I am working with our team to determine the root cause as well as the steps ABA needs to take to be held accountable and to make changes,” Hill said. “It is the next actions I take and that the ABA team takes that are critical now.”
She went on to list extensive steps the ABA’s “Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee” plans to take to avoid accidentally allowing their members to see the covers of books by black Republicans going forward.
“The process to inform those steps will include listening to impacted members; conferring with members of ABA’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee; institutionalizing more of our diversity, equity, and inclusion work; revising our internal procedures and checks and balances; discussing with our team the impact of this violence on our members and our colleagues; changing the submission, vetting, and distribution process for the box mailing program; automating some of our online content to eliminate unconscious bias; reviewing all of our programs and communication; and more,” she promised, adding, “Though we know the harm these actions caused is obvious to those impacted and many others, we will also share resources that speak to why these acts are violent.”
Ironically, the ABA claims to be a fierce defender of free speech. It supports a sister organization – The American Booksellers for Free Expression — whose stated mission is to “promote and protect the free exchange of ideas, particularly those contained in books, by opposing restrictions on the freedom of speech; issuing statements on significant free expression controversies; participating in legal cases involving First Amendment rights; collaborating with other groups with an interest in free speech; and providing education about the importance of free expression to booksellers, other members of the book industry, politicians, the press and the public.”
It also sponsors a “Banned Books Week” event every year.
In the same email, Hill also apologized for including Abigail Shrier’s book, “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters,” in a promotional mailer to retail outlets.
The Daily Wire reached out to both the ABA and the ABFE about their comments on Shrier and Owens’ books and did not receive a timely response.