Publishing. We Need It.

Photo By Elvert Barnes. Used w permission under Creative Commons License.

Last November, as we approached the Election Day, I had that week all planned out. On Tuesday night, we’d have an election party at the house to celebrate the election of our first woman president. On Friday, I’d planned to take the day off and work on my radio play, a combination soap opera/farce.

When I told my husband my idea for the party, he looked at me like I had two heads.

“She might not win,” he said quietly.

So I bagged the party idea, but still looked forward to working on my silly play on Friday. 

Hillary did not win. Friday came. I did not want to write comedy on Friday. I never wanted to write comedy again. I wanted to hide out in my bathroom until everybody realized the election had been a huge mistake.

Eventually, it was comforting to see that many, many writer and editor friends near and far felt the same way. They didn’t hide in the bathroom; they organized readings, anthologies, special issues, marches and memes. Publishers I respect, such as the nonprofit, socially conscious Beacon Press in Boston, reached out to their readers to offer titles to get them through, offering titles like the 25th Anniversary Edition of Race Matters by Cornell West; Bridging the Class Divide and Other Lessons from Grassroots Organizing by Linda Stout, and Dreamers: An Immigrant Generation’s Fight for the American Dream by Eileen Truax.

I spoke with Beacon Publicity Manager Caitlin Meyer, and she spelled out for me that the press’ management felt it was important right now to put these titles in front of readers — sometimes even for free.

“Given the current state of the country, we felt one of the most important things to do was to put out these really valuable, essential and timely books out into the world,” Meyer said. “We have seen a lot of increased interest in these books since the election, and we’re doing our best in our department to support that, to lift up these books that are important to people right now — books about immigration, democracy,  race and culture.”

Beacon publishes solely serious nonfiction, but Meyer credited all publishers looking toward providing any kind of reading relief to what has felt lately like an especially fractious world.

“Even if you’re doing novels; even if you’re doing something that’s not tied to the news, it’s still important work to get literature out there,” Meyer said. “It’s important. People need it.”