WHERE IS THE LINE, EX­ACTLY?

Spe­cial Guest: Glenn Yef­feth, pub­lisher of Ben­bella Books

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Adult Nonfiction -

A few months back I was of­fered the op­por­tu­nity to con­sider pub­lish­ing Milo Yiannopou­los’s book, Dan­ger­ous, which has gone on to be a self-pub­lished hit. I de­cided against it, but it wasn’t a ca­sual de­ci­sion.

It’s not as though I feel the need to agree with my au­thors’ pol­i­tics or that I avoid con­tro­ver­sial projects. I pub­lished Jose Baez’s inside story of his suc­cess­ful de­fense of Casey An­thony, a woman who pretty much ev­ery­one had de­cided was guilty of killing her own daugh­ter. I pub­lished the no­to­ri­ous Rielle Hunter, whose af­fair with John Ed­wards briefly made her the most hated woman in Amer­ica. Both books be­came New York Times best­sellers. More re­cently, I pub­lished Rachel Doležal, whose be­lief that race tran­scended DNA made her the ob­ject of wide­spread scorn.

Less news­wor­thy, but no less con­tro­ver­sial, I pub­lished The Cure for Al­co­holism, which was re­jected by main­stream houses be­cause it went against the con­ven­tional wis­dom. It went on to help many thou­sands of peo­ple over­come that deadly dis­ease. I pub­lished The China Study, which promised dra­matic health ben­e­fits from a ve­gan life­style. This was back when ve­g­an­ism was con­sid­ered quite wacky, and when the me­dia was still wary af­ter Oprah was sued for over $10 mil­lion by the beef in­dus­try. The

China Study went on to help trans­form the health of hun­dreds of thou­sands, and sell over two mil­lion copies in the process.

So why Jose, Rielle and Rachel, and not Milo? For me, it’s a judg­ment. Do I want to work with this per­son, even if I don’t al­ways agree with their ac­tions? Do I think the book will bring a use­ful and in­ter­est­ing per­spec­tive into the world? In the cases of The Cure for Al­co­holism and

The China Study, I did my re­search, re­view­ing the un­der­ly­ing sci­en­tific pa­pers and talk­ing to ex­perts. In both cases, I de­cided these were mes­sages worth spread­ing.

Now who, ex­actly, anointed me with the awe­some re­spon­si­bil­ity of de­cid­ing where that line is, the power to de­ter­mine who gets pub­lished and who doesn’t?

No one, thank­fully, and that’s the beauty of in­de­pen­dent pub­lish­ing. There are many hun­dreds of us, all with our own lines, our own per­spec­tives. As a group, we play an im­por­tant role in en­sur­ing that the mar­ket­place of ideas never gets stale. We are needed, be­cause the big pub­lish­ers, for all their mer­its, of­ten think along sim­i­lar lines.

I prob­a­bly shouldn’t ad­mit this, but when I hear that ev­ery ma­jor pub­lisher re­fuses to touch a book project, it ac­tu­ally gets me ex­cited. That’s a good sign that an op­por­tu­nity ex­ists for a smart, in­de­pen­dent-minded pub­lisher.

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