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Controversy recently erupted when publishing house Bloomsbury India decided to refrain from publishing and distributing a book titled Delhi Riots 2020.
The launch of the book authored by Advocate Monika Arora along with Professors Sonali Chitalkar and Prerna Malhotra, was set to feature BJP politician Kapil Mishra. This prompted criticism from various quarters on social media, following which Bloomsbury India decided to shelve the book.
Monika Arora spoke to Bar & Bench on the events that preceded the launch of the book, the contract violation, and Kapil Mishra.
The chain of events
"Over the last three months, we have communicated regularly though email, SMS and WhatsApp.
We sent them a draft, they okayed it. They signed the contract. We sent the final draft. They suggested changes. We worked on the changes. They signed off. Their legal team vetted the book...approved the book. They sent the final PDF to us. We said, this was final."
Bloomsbury then published the book and sent the authors copies of the same. Arora and her co-authors then sent the book for review to other authors and readers for their comments.
Just minutes before the launch, there was to be a twist in the tale. Arora recounts,
"On August 22, the book launch was at 4 PM. I logged in at 3.30 PM on Cisco Webex for the launch, and I get a call from Bloomsbury India that 'some Jokers have tweeted and tagged Bloomsbury UK and they are pressurizing to us to withdraw'.
I said, 'What’s there to withdraw? It’s your book too. Send them a copy of the book and ask them to read it'."
As per Arora's account, Bloomsbury India told the authors that Bloomsbury UK was being pressurized by their international authors, and therefore, they wanted to Indian entity to withdraw publication. She says,
“We have not received a single message from them, even till date, that they are withdrawing from the book and here are the reasons. There is not a line till now.
I wrote to them, no matter what you say on public domain, you are still our publisher, atleast give us a reply, whether you have withdrawn and if possible give reasons for your withdrawal."
However, despite emailing the publishing house and posting the email of Twitter, the authors received no response.
Arora questions the intent of Bloomsbury India.
"There was a contract. They published it. They put it up for sale on Amazon. It was a number 1 best seller in a particular category. They suddenly remove that link from Amazon, they go into a huddle and have no communication after the launch.
There is a breach of trust and breach of contract. There was a professional trust that has been breached, we as authors, and they as publishers."
"The entire lobby or group of persons tried to kill the book. The only reasons to cancel the book are force majeure and Act of God", she says.
The book launch and Kapil Mishra
"Social media told us that they had a problem with Kapil Mishra. Bloomsbury did not have anything to do with the book launch.
If they had a problem with Kapil Mishra, they could have told us. We could have convinced them or they could have convinced us to change the speakers. If you are upset with the speakers, boycott or withdraw from the launch.Why withdraw from the book you have published and sold on Amazon?"
She goes on to say,
"The invite was on public domain, the card and details were in public domain since August 20. We had shared the e-card with Bloomsbury India.
There was no objection or comments by anyone. Bloomsbury India never had any objection to having Kapil Mishra on the stage."
Following Bloomsbury's withdrawal as publisher of the book, Arora has now proceeded to publish the book through Garuda Publications.
Citing provisions of criminal breach of trust and violation of contract, Arora is considering pursuing future legal action against Bloomsbury.
"I am consulting with my co-authors for future action that we intend to take against Bloomsbury", she concludes.