On Thursday, the Hollywood Reporter revealed that Milo Yiannopoulos, the editor of Breitbart Tech and a well-known "alt-right" pundit, had secured a $250,000 advance in a book deal with Simon & Schuster's conservative imprint, Threshold Editions.
"I met with top execs at Simon & Schuster earlier in the year and spent half an hour trying to shock them with lewd jokes and outrageous opinions," Yiannopoulos told THR. "I thought they were going to have me escorted from the building—but instead they offered me a wheelbarrow full of money."
S&S will release Dangerous on March 14, 2017, and the book is now up on the S&S website.
"They said banning me from Twitter would finish me off," Yiannopoulos added, referring to an incident this July, when a number of his Twitter followers engaged in targeted harrassment of actress Leslie Jones following her role in the Ghostbusters remake, which Yiannopoulos panned. (Jones temporarily left the social network due to harassment.) "Just as I predicted, the opposite has happened."
While Yiannopoulos, whose ban is "permanent," may be off Twitter, news of the deal prompted backlash from the book community on the social network, much of it criticizing S&S for signing Yiannopoulos. The Chicago Review of Books went so far as to say it would not review any S&S titles in 2017 as a result of the Yiannopoulos signing.
The publishing industry as of this year is 79% white. Being racist is quite profitable. https://t.co/lNo0flFAIa— Saeed Jones (@theferocity) December 29, 2016
Whew. When I saw that Milo had a book deal I whispered, please don't let it be my publisher.— roxane gay (@rgay) December 29, 2016
Couldn't agree more. No member of the reading community should have to fear they'll be put in danger if their home town is on his book tour. https://t.co/1nsSLwbsnp— Joanna Volpe (@JoSVolpe) December 29, 2016
Outrage helps sell books. Utter silence is what kills them.— Lisa Lucas (@likaluca) December 30, 2016
That backlash is unlikely to phase Yiannopoulos.
"Every line of attack the forces of political correctness try on me fails pathetically," he told THR. "I'm more powerful, more influential and more fabulous than ever before, and this book is the moment Milo goes mainstream."
However, Yiannopoulos may not be so dismissive of booksellers' reactions. While the book has risen up the charts at Amazon and is on sale at BN.com, at least a few independent booksellers said they will not sell the book. "The books my staff and I choose to place on our shelves is a reflection of our community," said Kate Rattenborg, owner of Dragonfly Books in Decorah, Iowa. "Our community is not a community of hate, and I will not provide shelf space for a book where the author has risen to notoriety based on his discriminatory harassment, online bullying, and striking fear in others."
Judith Kissner, owner of Scout & Morga Books in Cambridge, Minn., had a similar stance. Calling Yiannopoulous "nothing more than a self-promoting provocateur who has realized there is big money to be made in spewing hatred, misogyny, and intolerance," Kissner said her store builds "the core of our inventory around literature and books that enlighten, educate, and inspire. I have no problem with losing a sale by not stocking the book.”
After being reached for comment, S&S stated: "We do not and never have condoned discrimination or hate speech in any form. At Simon & Schuster, we have always published books by a wide range of authors with greatly varying, and frequently controversial, opinions, and appealing to many different audiences of readers."
The publisher added: "While we are cognizant that many may disagree vehemently with the books we publish, we note that the opinions therein belong to our authors, and do not reflect either a corporate viewpoint or the views of our employees, and request that readers withhold judgment until they have had a chance to read the actual contents of the book."
With additional reporting by Claire Kirch
This article has been updated to include more reaction to the Yiannopoulos signing.