New Twitter Account Calls Out the Publishing Industry

The cheekily named @PublishrsWeakly continues the conversation started by ‘American Dirt’

A new anonymous Twitter account, @PublishrsWeakly, is calling out the publishing and bookselling industries’ treatment of workers. The account, which popped up on April 20, already has over 8,000 followers.

“The cool thing about publishing is doing unpaid labor for college credit in service of getting a job that they’ll underpay you for for a couple of years and then maybe they’ll let you rise through the ranks and pay you what you deserved from the start,” reads one tweet.

In the ensuing week, tweets have tackled the Big Five publishers’ HQs in the country’s most expensive city, called out the financial privilege that gave many writers their start, and thoroughly eviscerated the #BooksAreEssential hashtag, which highlights the balm books have been to many in quarantine.

What first looked like parody–with that “a” in “weakly” doing a lot of the legal heavy lifting–has since shifted to outright political organizing. The accounts’ demands include fair pay and health insurance for workers, a greater diversity of voices being heard, and not publishing the works of “war criminals, fascists, pedophiles, race scientists, and people guilty of sexual harassment and assault.”

“It’s past time for the book industry to value the workers, not just the CEOs. Join us,” the account says in a pinned tweet, before linking to a Google form about building worker power. “Help us organize. We’re stronger together.”

“Our goals are to turn publishing into a more equitable and inclusive industry,” they said in an interview with Electric Literature, which reveals the brains behind @PublishrsWeakly as “an out-of-work bookseller and someone who works for an indie press.” They continued that they want an industry “where diversity is a standard, rather than something to be achieved. One where top-down wealth does not drive the decisions that get made.”

The account’s small but strong following has caught the attention of the original Publishers Weekly, who asked them to change their avatar to one that less resembles the outlet’s logo. Previously, the pair had used the iconic “PW” adorned with a spiked bracelet.

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Katie Smith

Katie Smith is a Philadelphia-based writer. Find her on Instagram @saddy_yankee for cat pics.

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