It’s no secret that many in the publishing industry are displeased with the election of Donald J. Trump as President. On Saturday, thousands of members of the publishing community plan to participate in several of the hundreds of protest marches planned around the country and the world. In New York City, a group organized by Farrar, Straus & Giroux editor Sarah Crichton, and writers Rebecca Okrent and Marilyn Johnson, has dubbed itself “Don’t Trump on U.S.” and has gathered more then 350 editors, agents, writers, and artists to march on Trump Tower.
“The march is a reminder to all in the book business that going forward we are going to have to be vigilant, resist and, if necessary fight back,” Crichton told PW, adding, “Unfortunately, that may have to be more frequently.”
Hundreds of others from New York and the tri-state area are traveling to Washington D.C. for the Women’s March. Among those making the trip is Susannah Greenberg of Susannah Greenberg Public Relations. “As a book industry person, I care about freedom of the press, freedom of speech and as a publicist I’m concerned about our allies in the media. We have to be heard and I feel our system has failed us and we can get it back. Marching is a way to express this and show solidarity.”
Another hitting the road on Saturday is Ellen Trachtenberg, owner of Narberth Bookshop in Narberth, Penn., which she opened on November 6, just three days before the election. “I was opening it under the hopeful premise that the environment I enjoyed under Obama would continue, but it was a naive belief," she said. "I thought we’d have a woman president and then Trump wins and I was challenged by the question of what to do with an administration doesn’t want to promote cultural literacy.” And so she is leaving her two male employees behind to keep the shop open, while she travels to Washington and her other employees march in nearby Philadelphia. “It was important to keep the store open as a gathering place for all those who wanted a place to congregate — it’s a community destination.”
In Oakland, Calif., literary agent and former bookseller Andy Ross said, “everyone I know is going on a march” Ross, who is fondly remember for having stood up after his bookstore, Cody’s, was firebombed in 1989 the midst of the controversy over Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, says that marching helps people “who want to do something.” He notes that the publishing industry’s role in Trump’s America will play out in the long-term rather than the sort term. "What I really think will happen is that the book business may do some of its best work in the coming years, as often happens in times of trouble. I can see someone like Kurt Eichenwald writing a fantastic book about Trump ”
Ross — who represents several political writers and figures, including Daniel Ellsberg — notes that books about social change will be all the more relevant and points to the immense viral popularity of "Indivisible," a downloadable guide to “resisting the Trump agenda” as the type of thing that, “if it hasn’t already been bought by a publisher, it should have.”
But Crichton underscores that “as publishers, our job is not about advocacy, but about history and knowledge. I think there are going to be many different important stories that are going to be told now and in the future. We can resist by maintaining a broad commitment to truth, something the incoming administration is unwilling to do.”
Of course, books take time to reach the market. For those who feel the need to countdown the days till the end of the Trump administration, you can head over to the website of Bookshop Santa Cruz in California, where you can buy a Trump Countdown Clock that gives you a digital readout about how much longer Donald Trump will be President.
“Our first order of Trump timers sold out in less than a day," said Casey Coonerty, owner of the store. “We didn’t expect him to win and only could get 100 timers the first time. We have another 5,000 coming and we will make them available to other independent booksellers around the country who are interested in selling them."
The store had success with a similar George W. Bush Countdown Timer, which went on to sell more than 60,000 units. This time around, said Coonerty, the timers will have a special feature. “They come with instructions how who to reprogram it just in case Trump gets impeached,” she said.