Bookstr News: Unions, Book Bans, and Romance

Here’s this week’s recap of all the latest news! From the HarperCollins Union Strike ending to Roald Dahl’s rewrites, we’ve got it all for you this week!

Book Culture Book News Community Female Authors Publishing
Thumbnail for video w/ cringing gracie and edits geaturing things related to the stories

It’s time for this week’s news roundup! If you aren’t familiar with Bookstr News, allow us to fill you in! Bookstr News is all about bookish news–we’re covering hot topics like book bans, school protests about the state of a university’s library, and even romance authors that went missing? We’re your outlet for all things book culture and the book world. Let’s be honest, we’re covering the topics you really want to know about! This week has been absolutely stacked so we’re not going to waste any time, let’s get straight to the news. 

HarperCollins Union Strike Ends after Three Months

HarperCollins Union Logo

Bookstr News Story, HarperCollins Union Strike comes to end after three months.
cr. HarperCollins Union

After a three-month strike, the HarperCollins Union reached an agreement with the publisher HarperCollins. The company saw more than 200 employees walk out across multiple departments since November. 

One of the biggest things that the Union is advocating for was a salary increase for entry-level workers from $45,000 to $50,000 a year with additional causes being workplace diversity and protection from the union. 

On Thursday the chairperson for the union, Laura Hershberger, tweeted, “The @hcpunion has a strong, fair contract, and I am very, very proud.” The publisher voiced similar excitement in a statement they released as well.

The new terms state that the annual starting pay will increase to $47,500 and will rise to $50,00 by the year 2025. Full-time employees at HarperCollins will also receive lump sum payments of $1,500. 

Though this is exciting news, it is important to remember that HarperCollins recently announced that they are reducing its North American workers by 5%. Here’s hoping that this new contract will lead to great things. 

New GOP Bill Targets Publishers for “Explicit” School Materials

Another week, another news story about the censoring and banning of the types of books that are deemed appropriate to be in public schools. 

A new bill has been introduced by Rep. Cory Mills (R-Fla.) that targets publishers via jail time or multi-thousand dollar fines in order to crack down on the distribution of what they define as “sexually explicit material” to public schools and other educational places.

Full bookshelves. 

Bookstr News Story: Florida Rep. Cory Mills proposes new bill that will fine publishing houses for distributing   'sexually explicit' materials to schools and educational centers.
cr. Canva

If a publisher were to break this new law, they would be subject to a fine with a potential maximum fee of $500,000. Those who work at the publisher could face a similar fee on top of five years of imprisonment. The bill also would leave the government with the right to withhold federal funding to any public school in the country that obtains or distributes materials with a “sexually explicit visual depiction of any kind” until the school destroys or gets rid of the materials.

This bill is merely another example, with over one hundred bills being filed this year alone, of Republicans taking action against the supposed sexualization and forcing of ‘woke’ beliefs and liberals on schoolchildren. While they have not defined what “sexually explicit materials” are, the main victims of the bills and the book ban that result from them are books that feature LGBTQ characters/storylines in a prominent way.

Mills has denied that this is a bill that targets the LGBT community or art that reflects the evolving conversation around gender and sexuality, but the actual bannings and the language used tells another story. While protecting children is always a good thing, this is a troubling bill that gives certain institutions too much power over what information should be taught in schools. 

Roald Dahl’s Books Have Been Rewritten….

The story that swept the Internet this last week has got to be the fact that some of Roald Dahl’s most iconic stories have been re-written or scrubbed to reflect our modern values. Some of Dahl’s biggest works such as James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory have had words removed and changed. The changes have exclusively been made in the British copies thus far.

Some examples of this include Oompa Loompas from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory changing from being described as “small men” to now “small people” to keep them gender-neutral. Matilda saw the phrase “most formidable female” changed to “most formidable woman.” The books also saw words that might be offensive towards mental health like “crazy” and “mad” removed as well. 

While it’s no secret that Roald Dahl was not a great person, censoring his works is not the way to go about it. We can only hope that the outrage will be enough to prevent this change from being implemented all over the globe. 

Florida Substitute Teacher Fired Over Social Media Post

After a video went viral online featuring empty bookcases in a middle school, the Florida substitute teacher who made the post has been fired with the footage being called a “fake narrative” by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. 

Brian Covey, the teacher in question, was fired for supposedly not sharing the full story in his post. The room he was filming had plenty of full books as well. The Duval County Public Schools released a statement that said “The viral video you are sharing shows less than half the story. Yes, those shelves were empty. But they were in a room full of books.”

Covey was also let go from the ESS, an organization that contracts substitute teachers, after determining that he violated his employer’s social media and cell phone policy by filming this and causing a disturbance. 

No matter what version of this is the real truth, the fact that Florida schools are banning books and deciding what books are appropriate for kids at all is awful and something that should be talked about. 

Missing Romance Novel Writer Found

To end the week on a weird note, a romance novelist has been found after she was reported missing following an arrest for allegedly leading police officers on a high-speed chase among other things. 

Author Faleena Marie Hopkins is best known for trying to copyright the word “cocky” as she is the author of the Cocker Brothers series of romance novels. She initially did get the trademark–however, she withdrew it after receiving backlash from other authors. 

Pictures of Faleena Marie Hopkins

Bookstr News Story: Faleena Marie Hopkins, a romance author that went missing for almost a month after being arrested and released from jail.
cr. Cowboy State Daily / Hawaii News Now

To recap the situation as it is a bit complicated, Hopkins was parked on a highway and fled when the cops came after her for twenty-four miles. She was arrested and released from jail on January 30. 

After this, she was reported missing but it turns out she went to the Jackson, Wyoming airport with a new cell phone and number with the intention of heading for Hawaii. Police were able to track her to Hawaii and her family has been alerted that she is safe. Hopkins is due back in court on February 28th and will represent herself in the case.  

And with that, that’s a wrap on this week’s Bookstr News roundup! Be sure to check out our YouTube channel to watch the full video! We hope you had a good week and to see what we covered last week, check out the video down below!

cr. Bookstr on YouTube