Despite Senator Al Franken's professional woes, booksellers in his home state of Minnesota say they will continue to sell his book.
The Senator, who announced last week that he is stepping down at the end of this month in the wake of sexual harassment charges made against him by eight women, recently cancelled a handful of appearances promoting his May-published book, Giant of the Senate. While many booksellers in Minnesota previously told PW that they planned to keep selling the title as usual, Franken's resignation has made some a bit more squeamish about how to handle the memoir. (In his resignation speech, Franken said that while he believes stepping down was the "right thing to do" and believes "all women deserve to be heard and their experiences taken seriously," he added that his earlier words had been misconstrued by many as an admission of his guilt and that "some of the allegations against me are simply not true; others, I remember very differently.")
Despite the fact that the book's status is officially unchanged--a spokesperson for the Hachette imprint Twelve, which published the title, declined to comment when contacted by PW--the bookselling community in Minnesota seems divided about the title. The rift reflects the fact that, when it comes to public opinion on Franken, Minnesotans themselves are divided. Some feel the once-popular public servant has officially fallen from grace, while others believe his punishment does not seem to fit the crime.
“We’re going to leave [the book] on the shelf, not on the front table, and we probably won’t be re-ordering,” said Anne Nye, co-owner of Excelsior Bay Books in the Minneapolis suburb of Excelsior. Her sentiments were echoed by other booksellers, including Judith Kissner, the owner of Scout & Morgan Books in Cambridge, Minn., who said that her customers “will determine if we re-order it” when her supply is depleted.
Hans Weyandt, the manager of Milkweed Books in Minneapolis, said he had returned a stack of copies of Giant of the Senate last week before Franken’s announcement. “I wasn’t going to wait for him to resign,” Weyandt said, explaining that Milkweed will continue to carry “one or two copies.” He added: “I don’t feel like I should be the arbiter if someone else wants to read this book.”
Apostle Islands Booksellers, in Bayfield, 85 miles from the Minnesota state line, is the only bookstore contacted by PW that had pulled its copy of Giant of the Senate from the shelves after Franken’s resignation. Although Giant of the Senate is no longer available at Apostle Islands, manager Kristen Sandstrom expressed her hope that Franken would at some point write another memoir about the events that transpired before his resignation.
“People want to understand. It’d be smart for him to continue to tell the story from his point of view," she said.