Members of the US book trade have urged the industry to remember the powerful role books play in promoting unity and understanding in the wake of yesterday's (9th November) US election result which saw Republican candidate Donald Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton to take the White House as US president elect.
Oren Teicher, c.e.o. of American Bookseller’s Association, said that the bookselling community has a "special obligation" to promote bookshops as places of communication and reconcilliation following the election of the right-wing candidate.
“As this bitterly contested election season comes to a close — regardless of which candidate you supported — it’s clear that we live in a terribly divided country", Teicher said. "The role bookstores play in healing division has never been more important. As citizens, attempting to comprehend what has occurred, all of us in the bookselling community have a special obligation — and opportunity — to foster communication and to help reconcile our communities. President-elect Trump, secretary Clinton, and president Obama have all indicated that the time to unite our country is now, and there is no better place than within the walls of a bookstore for that process to begin.”
In its editor's note, book industry website Shelf Awareness highlighted the importance of books as a key part of public discourse to provide information and understanding.
The note read: “Many of us here at Shelf Awareness are in shock at the election results, in part because polls and predictions were so far off. We're also wary of the rhetoric of the winning campaign, which too often has been inflammatory and not exactly fact-based.
“Much of the book world supported the losing side. And while it's difficult to take in the results of the election, it's important to remember that in the turbulent days and years ahead, books will remain a key part of public discourse and provide so much of the information that is part of--or should be part of--discussions of the issues and constitute the basis of momentous decisions and laws. Books are also a great source of perspective, understanding, solace and, when needed, escape.”
In a blog post for independent publisher Melville House, which has offices in Brooklyn, US and London, Ian Dreiblatt, director of digital media at the publisher, also spoke of unity and the importance of books to offer information and support.
“Real talk: we find ourselves in uncharted waters. Donald Trump’s victory throws a monkey-sized wrench into the works", Dreiblatt said. "In the coming days, we’ll do our best to find what can be said, to talk about the reverberations Trump’s election has sent across the book trade and the world of writing. Print culture offers us the promise of historical coherence. It seeds our perspective with empathy. It unites disparate threads of thought and offers to catalyze action in one place with ideas from another. We know that we’ll need all of this for the four long years ahead."
He continued: "A lot might be said, and will be. There will be ample time for sober analysis, wildcat activism, principled collectivity. There will, of course, be a great deal to read, to respond to, talk about. We will cut a path, wending through outrage, disgust, fear, and principled resistance, to a place from which we can report news and opinion with conscience, spirit, and, somehow, a sense of humour.
"We’re not there yet. We’re doing what we can, reporting the earliest stirrings of this wave. And we’re not going anywhere. But for right now, at this infamous moment, the only thing we can say seems to be: we’re here. We’re reeling from shock and trying to conceive of how we can write about it. We’ll get there. And to the community of book people we love: we’re standing with you, and we’re grateful to have you standing with us. That’s how we get through this."
Actress Emma Watson has taken to handing out copies of writer Maya Angelou books in New York. Watson tweeted: "Today I am going to deliver Maya Angelou books to the New York subway. Then I am going to fight even harder for all the things I believe in."
Many US authors have been active on social media and tweeting their thoughts about the result. Joyce Carol Oates tweeted: "To many of us, 2016 election was not metaphorically but literally 'rigged' through voter suppression, systematic lies, brainwashing". Roxane Gay said: "We just have to see this country with clearer eyes and next time, we cannot underestimate hatred and fear". Meanwhile author John Green tweeted: "You reap what you sow."
Yesterday (9th December), The Bookseller reported that the UK book trade had reacted with “dismay”, “horror” and “frustration” at the result, while authors such as Philip Pullman and George R R Martin lead the authors' response to the election result.