When Barnes & Noble announced Monday the cancellation of Michael Vick’s scheduled book signings at 3 of the bookseller’s stores, animal lovers celebrated. Thousands had protested Vick’s appearances at the B&N stores through an online petition, calls to the bookseller’s customer service line, and comments on the Facebook pages of B&N and Vick. For a moment, it seemed like a grassroots victory. Tweets like these summarized the celebratory tone:
But this was not a case of a corporation finding their conscience. On Monday afternoon, Vick’s publisher released a statement that the book tour had been cancelled by Worthy Publishing “after credible threats of personal harm and property damage were received by Barnes & Noble Booksellers and distinguished independent bookstore Books & Greetings in Northvale, New Jersey.”
With one press release, the story had changed. Both Barnes & Noble and Michael Vick had become sympathetic characters, their detractors potentially violent criminals. The author, publisher, and book sellers were able to back out of a book tour that had become a public relations nightmare, all without ceding any ground to the protestors.
As for the threats in question, very little information has been released. We contacted Barnes & Noble for more details, but they declined to comment. Phillymag.com did spot some disturbing comments on Vick’s Facebook page that have since been removed, though it’s unknown if those were among the “credible threats” that led to the cancellation of the book tour. The comments read:
“I would go there to slit your throat knowing how you treat animals.”
“hope your kids don’t fall in a pool with a battery.”
“I would snap your neck if I met you, your [sic] a piece of trash.”
Since news of the threats broke, many protestors are unsure how to feel about Barnes & Noble. Sure, the signings were cancelled, but by Vick’s publisher, not B&N. The bookseller’s Facebook page has become an impromptu discussion board on the topic, and it’s either extremely noble or incredibly lazy that the company hasn’t removed the impassioned comments. In fact, Barnes & Noble hasn’t responded to the controversy in any way, and for some, that perceived indifference is enough to keep the boycott alive. The comment below is representative of many we read on Facebook:
there are no Kudos for B & N. They did NOT cancel the signings and have yet to address any of our concerns. Vicks publishers did! They do not care about their customers.