However, with a hearing on their federal lawsuit seeking to block the new Texas law just days away, publishers and other industry stakeholders are balking at Follett’s request to help the vendor rate their titles. Though all of the Big Five publishers declined to comment directly on the Follett memo for this story, multiple publishers confirmed its details. One publishing executive told PW on background that they understand the bind Follett faces in Texas with the new law but that complying with the request to rate their books would make them “complicit” in an act of censorship. And in a statement, one publisher, Hachette, went on record to broadly reject the idea of rating its books.
In their recently filed lawsuit to block HB 900, the controversial new Texas law that will require vendors to rate books sold to schools for sexual content, a coalition of booksellers and publishing industry associations insist that the law is both unconstitutional and impractical. “Booksellers do not see a clear path forward to rating the content of the thousands of titles sold to schools in the past, nor the thousands of titles that are published each year,” explained plaintiff Charley Rejsek, CEO of Austin-based vendor BookPeople, in a July 25 statement announcing the litigation. But with the law’s September 1 effective date bearing down, Follett School Solutions, the nation’s largest distributor of books to schools, does see a path forward in Texas—and that path apparently includes asking publishers to help rate their own books….