5 Books That Were Canceled, Postponed, Or Pulled From Shelves

The news is coming fast and furious, especially when its concerns the dealings of former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos. The human controversy machine resigned from his post as Breitbart news editor, a move that came on the heels of the The Reagan Battalion publishing a video where Yiannopoulos makes light of pedophilia. That video prompted Simon & Schuster, the publisher that was scheduled to publish Yiannopoulos' book Dangerous in March, to drop their client and fast.

In the weeks leading up to The Reagan Battalion leak, the literary world was making its distaste for Yiannopoulos public. Roxane Gay, who yanked her book How To Be Heard from Simon & Schuster following the initial news of Yiannopoulos' book deal, commented on the most recent update on her Tumblr:

In canceling Milo’s book contract, Simon & Schuster made a business decision the same way they made a business decision when they decided to publish that man in the first place. When his comments about pedophilia/pederasty came to light, Simon & Schuster realized it would cost them more money to do business with Milo than he could earn for them. They did not finally “do the right thing” and now we know where their threshold, pun intended, lies. They were fine with his racist and xenophobic and sexist ideologies. They were fine with his transphobia, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. They were fine with how he encourages his followers to harass women and people of color and transgender people online. Let me assure you, as someone who endured a bit of that harassment, it is breathtaking in its scope, intensity, and cruelty but hey, we must protect the freedom of speech. Certainly, Simon & Schuster was not alone in what they were willing to tolerate. A great many people were perfectly comfortable with the targets of Milo’s hateful attention until that attention hit too close to home.
Because I’ve been asked, I will not be publishing my book with Simon & Schuster now that they have dropped Milo.

Believe it or not, there's a tumultuous history of canceled, pulled, or destroyed books. They tell many a cautionary tale.

1'If I Did It' by O.J. Simpson

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In 2006 Simpson's same-named book and TV special were canceled by News Corp. Their publishing imprint, HarperCollins, and their television network, Fox, were slated to bring Simpson's memoir and documentary, which most considered tantamount to a confession, to life. In the end, ReganBooks published the memoir.

2'How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life' by Kaavya Viswanathan

This YA novel, written by a Harvard student who received a $500,000 book deal, was pulled (all copies were destroyed) after its publication, when it was revealed that Viswanathan had plagiarized the work of Megan McCafferty. In an article in Slate, Ann Hulbert wrote:

"The darker moral of her story seems to be that if you succeed by packaging, you can expect to fail by packaging, too — and you alone, not your packagers, will pay the price. McCafferty's publisher, Steve Ross of Crown, has rejected as 'disingenuous and troubling' Viswanathan's apology for her 'unintentional and unconscious' borrowings from two McCafferty books, Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings, that she says she read and loved in high school."

3'The Murder of Stephen King' by James Patterson

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James Patterson announced the publication of this novel — and then canceled it two weeks later. In a statement from his publisher, the author said:

“My book is a positive portrayal of a fictional character, and – spoiler alert – the main character is not actually murdered ... Nevertheless, I do not want to cause Stephen King or his family any discomfort. Out of respect for them, I have decided not to publish The Murder of Stephen King.”

4'The Continent' by Keira Drake

HarlequinTeen postponed the publication date for The Continent after an online discussion about racist stereotypes in the work. The work does not yet have a new release date.

5'What the (Bleep) Just Happened?' by Monica Crowley

Just last month, HarperCollins pulled this title after a CNN report revealed that more than 50 passages had been plagiarized.