At the Edgar Awards last night, the news of OPAL MEHTA being recalled became “the text message heard round the ballroom.” And while the official word from Little, Brown — who took up two tables at the banquet to fete Best Novel nominees Michael Connelly and George Pelecanos — was a firm no comment, one source within the publishing group did acknowledge that it had been a very difficult week for all involved — understandably so.
The Washington Post’s piece concentrates on why the recall is seen as such a surprise move. “They must have a very good case . . . if Little, Brown and Company is going to such extremes,” said Lorraine Shanley, a principal at Market Partners International, a consulting firm in New York. “In the book industry . . . this is really fairly unheard of,” said Jon Schallert, a retail marketing consultant based in Florida.
Meanwhile, one bookseller told the Harvard Crimson that the scandal had not significantly increased sales of the book. Harvard Bookstore supervisor Ben Newcomer also added that (as of last night) he hadn’t yet received any word of the recall. And Jenny Fry, a publicist for Time Warner UK, Viswanathan’s UK publisher, confirmed to the Guardian that the author’s book tour had been cancelled in that country.
And Reuters, in their piece on the recall, comments that “Viswanathan is the latest writer to face accusations of ethical impropriety that have shaken the publishing industry.” Though it’s difficult to tell if such a blanket statement is actually true – even in the aftermath of James Frey – it does fall in line with what Crown editor Jason Pinter (whose debut thriller THE MARK appears in stores next summer) said on his blog earlier this week. “‘It’s an isolated incident,’ I used to say. Now about six isolated incidents later, I’ve come to the realization that maybe we should police ourselves better. Maybe we get away with too much….Sometimes shit happens, but if our hearts are in the right place that’s what matters. But there are others whose hearts don’t quite line up in the margin, and the rest of us have to justify them.”