Tuesday, April 29, 2008

"Why We Left Islam" editors respond to CAIR's attack

Joel Richardson and Susan Crimp -- the editors who collected the amazing stories in our new book, Why We Left Islam -- fired back at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) for the organization's critical comments about their book.
"Even though CAIR wants to convince people that it's a moderate organization, the facts say otherwise," asserts Richardson, who writes using a pseudonym because of previous death threats from Islamic radicals. "The federal government named CAIR an unindicted co-conspirator in an alleged scheme to funnel $12 million to Hamas, and Representative Sue Myrick, R-NY, said evidence suggests CAIR is a front group for the Muslim Brotherhood."

"Evidently, CAIR's ties to Islamic extremists run deep," adds Richardson, who noted that a recent WorldNetDaily investigative report linked 14 CAIR officials to terror investigations. Richardson said that he and Crimp -- who is a noted journalist and author of books on Mother Teresa and the Kennedys -- knew from the start of their collaboration that radical Muslims would go to great lengths to discredit Why We Left Islam, so CAIR's attack came as no surprise.

We've known all along that radical groups like CAIR would attack this book because of the threat to Islam's credibility it poses. You cannot read these powerful personal accounts and be unmoved. Nor can you read this book and persist in believing that human flourishing is possible in an Islamist society.

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Assoc. of American Publishers fights law protecting minors from porn

PW reports that the Association of American Publishers has joined with the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and several Oregon bookstores in contesting a state law that "the dissemination of sexually explicit material to anyone under age 13, or the dissemination to anyone under age 18 of any material with the intent to sexually arouse the recipient or the provider." The reason? They allege the statue “burdens the exercise of free expression and creates a chilling effect on the sale, display, and dissemination of constitutionally protected speech.”

A press release from the Oregon chapter of the ACLU contains numerous objections to what they cede is a "well-intentioned effort to target sexual predators." They say the law is overly broad and could catch numerous innocent parties in its web. Such as a Planned Parenthood Peer Educator, or the Cascade AIDS Project for handing out safe sex materials to teenagers. Or grandma, who is now evidently going to be targeted by eager prosecutors for giving her grand kids a book about the birds and the bees.

All of this seems a little far fetched. Does the ACLU really think granny will go to the big house over a law intended to stop predators from luring kids? It seems like fear mongering to me. And it's also a PR effort to claim the moral high ground and distract from the participation of groups such as Planned Parenthood that think they have a constitutional right to have unfettered access to foist their views on children.

I'm disappointed that the Association of American Publishers and the Oregon booksellers got into bed with this cadre. If there are practical issues where the retailers need clarification or were being hit with an excessive compliance burden, they could have sought clarification through other means (or possibly a separate suit) without joining these left-wing groups who are pushing their own agenda. But, then again, the AAP is headed by the outspoken liberal and super-genius Pat Schroeder, so it comes as no surprise...


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

CAIR attacks our new Islam book

Speaking to the NY Daily News last week, Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, attacked our upcoming book, Why We Left Islam: Former Muslims Speak Out. According to Hooper:

This book is put out by WND Publishing, which promotes hate every day on its extremist anti-Muslim hate site... The editor is a guy who suggested air-dropping pig's blood over Afghanistan. There are 7 million American Muslims and over a billion worldwide who love Islam and practice it peaceably on a daily basis.
Never mind the fact that our company is WND Books, those are some bold claims by CAIR. But before addressing them, I'll quote a couple the description of the book from the article:

WND Books has emblazoned a picture of the prophet Muhammed torn in half across the front of the book, written by British journalist Susan Crimp and Islam expert Joel Richardson, using a pseudonym because he already has a fatwa out against him... Islamists might not be too happy with the book's contents, either. It's filled with first-person stories of former radicals who began to question the Koran, Islam's holy book, and who have changed their lives.
As for CAIR's absurd accusations about pig's blood, Joseph Farah rebuts them in an article on WND today.

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A holy Earth Day to you

My apologies for my brief absence from my blog. I was traveling last week and have been under the weather the past couple of days, but it's good to be back home and ensconced behind my keyboard. And just in time for the holiest day on the calendar for millions of Americans.

No, I'm not talking about Passover or Orthodox Easter, days that are set aside by pious believers to worship God and recall His actions to intervene in human history. Rather, I mean a day set aside to worship creation and advocate the suppression of human freedom in the name of a greater good. Or, as most of us call it, Earth Day.

Everyone in the publishing industry (except WND Books, it would seem) is observing the solemn day with proper piety. Publishers Weekly dedicated their daily newsletter to the topic and treated us to important stories such as "Random Reviews its Green Progress" and "Penguin Classics Goes Green With Nature Conservancy." Of course, there is a certain degree of irony for a business built around the destruction of trees to call itself green, but it's also an industry that tilts to the left, so no doubt these enviro-efforts are more penance than PR.

Since the Pope has gone back home to the Vatican, allow me to be your guide to some of the sacred Earth Day observances from around the Web:
  • We're treated to a special Google holiday logo for this sacred day. Only very important days, such as Alexander Graham Bell's Birthday on March 3, make the list of holiday logos. (Pedestrian events like Easter need not apply.)

  • Major League Baseball boasts a number of Earth Day observances, including the Seattle Mariners' decision to stage "the first carbon neutral game in MLB history." Fans attending the Reds-Dodgers game in Cincy will receive free night lights. (If this will help the batters in Torre's lineup who are hitting under .200 to see the ball, then I support it.)

  • The U.S. government has an official Earth Day website. The Feds may not be able to guard our borders, but they do provide us with an indispensable eco-liturgy such as "use the microwave to cook small meals" and "sweep outside instead of using a hose." Thank you, Saint George.
In other news, there is no word how Al Gore and his penguin army intend to spend the holy day.


Thursday, April 03, 2008

Publishing venture aims to end retailer returns

HarperCollins is launching a new publishing unit that will aim to move from traditional author royalties and advances to more of a profit-sharing structure where authors get a piece of the bottom line. While innovative for a conglomerate, some independent publishers are already experimenting with this approach. But what's more interesting is that HC says this unit will also attempt to eliminate returns from retailers.

If successful, this could bring about some big changes in the publishing industry. Returns of unsold inventory have been a fact of life for publishers since the Depression era. While giving retailers the right to return unsold inventory for credit surely grants retailers more flexibility in some cases, it also puts a lot of financial risk on publishers. According to a respected industry overview (Publishing for Profit by Thomas Woll), in the 1990s returns of trade hardcover books averaged over 31% of all copies. This makes it very difficult to forecast how well a book will do, and it forces publishers to keep reserves against authors' royalties as a result.

If a conglomerate like HC is able to make headway in developing a no-return model, other publishers would surely seek to follow their lead. This would give the big brick-and-mortar retailers a strong incentive to collaborate on moving away from the current system. I think this would be a winner for many publishers and authors. It could even help retailers, as well. The article notes that "several years ago, Steve Riggio, CEO of Barnes & Noble, said in an interview that he would like to be able to mark down books rather than returning them." This would give retailers more pricing flexibility to maximize cashflow, something they currently lack -- and of course discounted books would benefit consumers.

Only time will tell if this idea is to gain any traction in the publishing industry. I think it has potential, though.