HBG staff walk out over Woody Allen memoir

HBG staff walk out over Woody Allen memoir

Staff at Hachette Book Group US staged a walkout of its New York and Boston offices yesterday (5th March) in protest against its decision to publish Woody Allen’s autobiography.

The walk-out took place three days after Grand Central Publishing announced it would be publishing Allen's autobiography Apropos of Nothing on 7th April, having acquired it a year ago.

According to PW, employees at the company's Grand Central Publishing imprint and its sister imprint, Little, Brown, were also joined by select HBG employees at other imprints including Basic, Hachette Books, Forever, and Orbit. It is estimated more than 75 employees took part in New York.

The out-of-offices from those participating in the walk-out read: "This afternoon, Grand Central Publishing employees are walking out of the Hachette New York office in protest of the publication of Woody Allen's memoir. We stand in solidarity with Ronan Farrow, Dylan Farrow, and survivors of sexual assault."

Hachette UK has no plans to publish the book, with Fleet, an imprint of Little, Brown UK, issuing several statements on Twitter for clarity over the past few days. A spokesperson for Hachette UK told The Bookseller: "Hachette UK is not publishing or distributing Woody Allen’s upcoming memoir."

Allen, 84, has long been accused by his adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, of molesting her in 1992 when she was seven years old, allegations which Allen has denied. The abuse allegations were investigated at the time and he was never charged.

Earlier this week Farrow's adoptive brother, journalist Ronan Farrow, whose Harvey Weinstein exposé Catch and Kill is published by Hachette, said he was "disappointed" in Hachette Book Group over its decision to publish Apropos of Nothing and announced on Twitter he was severing ties with the publisher.

He wrote: "I was disappointed to learn through press reports that Hachette, my publisher, acquired Woody Allen’s memoir, after other major publishers refused to do so and concealed the decision from me and its own employees while we were working on Catch and Kill—a book about how powerful men, including Woody Allen, avoid accountability for sexual abuse."

He accused Hachette of failing to fact-check the book and said his sister had not been contacted to respond to "any denial or mischaracterisation of the abuse she suffered at the hands of Woody Allen–a credible allegation, maintained for almost three decades".

"I've encouraged Hachette [Book Group], out of respect for its readers, authors, and reputation, to conduct a thorough fact check of Woody Allen's account, in particular any claim that implies my sister is not telling the truth," his statement read, concluding: "I've also told Hachette that a publisher that would conduct itself in this way is one I can't work with in good conscience."

Michael Pietsch, chief executive of Hachette Book Group, has stood by Grand Central's decision, telling the New York Times: "We do not allow anyone’s publishing program to interfere with anyone else’s. Grand Central publishing believes strongly that there’s a large audience that wants to hear the story of Woody Allen’s life as told by Woody Allen himself. That’s what they’ve chosen to publish."

Apropos of Nothing is described on its Amazon.com listing as "a comprehensive account of Woody Allen's life, both personal and professional, and describes his work in films, theater, television, nightclubs, and print. Allen also writes of his relationships with family, friends, and the loves of his life."

According to PW, Hachette Book Group wouldn't reveal which agency, "let alone agent", sold Grand Central senior v.p. and publisher Ben Sevier the manuscript. Neither have the financial terms of the deal been disclosed.