Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hoffman’s book censored by The New York Review of Books: details

In the summer of 2008 an advertisement for Michael Hoffman’s book Judaism Discovered was accepted by The New York Review of Books (NYRB) for its Independent Press advertising pages. We contracted for two insertions.

After one insertion in the Sept. 25 issue, the woman who accepted our ad was either demoted or fired and we received the following communication from the elite NYRB, which has so often raised its voice against the censorship of books:

"My name is Alice McGrath and from now on I will be handling the Independent Press listing in the New York Review of Books. I'm writing with regards to the Independent History and Research advertisement that ran in our September 25 issue, which was scheduled to run in the October 23 issue as well.

"It is with regret that I inform you that we will be unable to publish your ad a second time. We have received complaints from subscribers about the ad, and our editor and associate publisher have considered the matter, deciding that this particular advertisement is unsuitable for our publication. As noted in the disclaimer at the end of our publication, the Publisher reserves the right to cancel any advertising at any time. You will not be billed a second time. I am very sorry for any inconvenience we may have caused you."

Yours sincerely,
Alice McGrath
The New York Review of Books
435 Hudson Street, 3rd Floor New York, NY 10014
(212) 293-1630 fax: (212) 333-5374

(End quote)

Dear Alice McGrath

In what way is our book unsuitable for an advertisement in NYRB?

Have the editor and publisher read it, or read a review of it?

Shouldn't they examine the book first, before banning an advertisement for it?

Is your advertising policy solely based on yielding to complaints from subscribers?

Would you ask the editor and publisher to accept an examination copy of Judaism Discovered from us, without cost or obligation, and make a determination on the suitability of an ad for the book based on an examination of it? That would seem normative and enlightened. The current policy is decidedly not.

Independent History and Research


Sept. 19, 2011

Dear Independent History and Research

Of course you are welcome to send a copy of the book to the attention of the Editors at the address given below.  In the meantime, however, the listing will not be published.The Publisher is simply exercising the right to reject any advertising at any time, as is stated on this publication's rate card.

Catherine Tice
Associate Publisher
The New York Review of Books

(End quote)

We did not fully publicize the details of this act of censorship in 2008 due to so much other work we were tasked with at the time of the book’s publication. We are publicizing it now, for the record.


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