When Barnes & Noble announced Monday the cancellation of Michael Vick‘s scheduled book signings at 3 of the bookseller’s stores, animal lovers celebrated. Thousands had protested Vick’s appearances at the B&N stores through an online petition, calls to the bookseller’s customer service line, and comments on the Facebook pages of B&N and Vick. For a moment, it seemed like a grassroots victory. Tweets like these summarized the celebratory tone:
But this was not a case of a corporation finding their conscience. On Monday afternoon, Vick’s publisher released a statement that the book tour had been cancelled by Worthy Publishing “after credible threats of personal harm and property damage were received by Barnes & Noble Booksellers and distinguished independent bookstore Books & Greetings in Northvale, New Jersey.”
With one press release, the story had changed. Both Barnes & Noble and Michael Vick had become sympathetic characters, their detractors potentially violent criminals. The author, publisher, and book sellers were able to back out of a book tour that had become a public relations nightmare, all without ceding any ground to the protestors.