HarperCollins Can Fund a DeSantis 2024 Bid but Refuses To Pay Workers a Livable Wage?
For those that didn’t know, over 200 hundred of HarperCollins employees have been on strike since November 10, demanding liveable wages, health benefits, and meaningful diversity initiatives. This strike has rallied the support of hundreds (if not thousands) more readers, authors, reviewers (including myself), agents, and booksellers. So, tell me why after two years of boosted sales and the refusal to negotiate with the UAW 2110 union (made up of Harper Collin’s employees), the company announced the release date for a book by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
Even if you don’t follow major book deals, you know this is going to be a lot of money. At least a million dollars for such a high-profile political figure. However, considering DeSantis recently switched from another major publisher to HarperCollins (owned by Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp), we can probably get a more accurate guess.
When the HarperCollins deal was first announced in February 2022, a publishing insider told Politico that DeSantis originally had a handshake deal with Simon & Schuster for $2 million. However, DeSantis backed out of the deal when he found out the parent company (at the time) also owned CBS News. DeSantis had a public feud with 60 Minutes in 2021, criticizing the vaccine rollout. This is not disconnected from his book, as part of the description reads, “A firsthand account from the blue-collar boy who grew up to take on Disney and Dr. Fauci.” Give me a fucking break.
Big money and bigger platform
The fact that DeSantis even chose Simon & Schuster initially made some of his supporters upset. Another source from the conservative publishing world told Politico that DeSantis’ team didn’t shop the book around to all the major publishers or even just the conservative ones. While surprising that he may not have gone to all of the Big 5 (which also includes Penguin Random House, Hachette, and McMillan), it’s pretty clear why the overlooked overt conservative ones. They have less money.
This decision is seen as another move for DeSantis to set up a presidential bid and isn’t just because everyone is wondering who will go against former-President Trump. From 2011 to 2014, DeSantis usually made under $3,000 in royalties for his debut book Dreams From Our Founding Fathers: First Principles in the Age of Obama – play on Obama’s first book Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. (The cover is even designed the same.) A year later, DeSantis announced his bid for FL 6 and then won his first position in public office.
New book, newish me
The tactic of releasing a book a year out from a major race or bid is so common that Selina Meyer did this in HBO’s Veep. A book tour allows politicians to get a lot of positive press by shaping the conversations going in—this includes Democrats and Indepedents. It’s not about policy, actions, and remarks — unless it’s in the book. Mike Pence and Sean Spicer both got this treatment. As of late, Republicans have used book deals as a way of distancing themselves from Trump. Book deals also act as a way of rehabilitating bad public images unrelated to the political arena (Dalia Owens) or as a way to transition from local fame to the national stage (JD Vance, who is now a senator-elect.)
Instead of paying their large women staff adequate wages and following up on their shallow diversity statements by negotiating with the union, HarperCollins is partly funding the political career of a man who recently arrested people for voting, trafficking migrant families, and is actively attempting to genocide transpeople. If they rightfully axed Chris Cuomo’s book, this should be a no-brainer.
(featured image: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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