Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Sad News Regarding Harper Lee's Novel, To Kill A Mockingbird

I was more than a little miffed after reading an article I discovered on Bustle this morning titled 'To Kill A Mockingbird' Mass-Market Paperback Will No Longer Be Published, Per Orders From Harper Lee's Estate by Emma Cueto. In the article, Cueto wrote:
For decades, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee has been a staple of high school English classes, and has inspired young people across the country. Unfortunately, following her death in February, the Harper Lee's estate will no longer allow publication of the mass-market paperback edition of To Kill A Mockingbird — aka, the inexpensive version that's so popular with schools. And it's a concerning decision for a number of reasons. 
According to The New Republic, which received emails sent by publisher Hachette to booksellers in multiple states, Harper Lee's estate has decided that Hachette will no longer be allowed to produce the mass-market paperback version of To Kill A Mockingbird, and that no other publishing house will be allowed to print a mass-market paperback edition. Hachette will be selling off its stock of the book at a discount to booksellers, and after that, there will be no more mass-market copies.
I don't understand the decision to stop producing and selling the mass market edition. It's really a travesty really. I personally can't help but feel that this decision is financially motivated. 

As Emma Cueto goes on to write in her article: 
Whether or not the decision to pull the mass-market paperback was financially motivated it is a sad announcement. The much more affordable copy made it easy for schools to use the novel as part of the curriculum. Now that the cheapest version available will cost more than 50 percent more per copy, it's likely that many schools won't reorder more once their current copies get worn out, and will instead find something more affordable to teach.
It also saddens me that future generations of teens may potentially no longer be reading To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee in high schools classrooms as part of the curriculum because schools may not be able to afford new copies due to the higher cost of trade paperbacks.

Another excellent point made by Emma Cueto in her article is:
Perhaps even more depressing, however, is the fact that there's nothing precisely that can replace it. To Kill A Mockingbird is not just a beautifully written novel and a 20th century classic, it's also one of the relatively few books in the American literary canon that deals directly with segregation, Jim Crow, and racial injustice and is probably the only such book that is appropriate to high school students. The book isn't perfect by any means — Atticus Finch is the embodiment of the white savior trope, after all — but the fact that any book dealing with these issues has been so widely taught in American schools is unquestionably a good thing.
So, what are your thoughts about the mass market edition of Harper Lee's novel, To Kill A Mockingbird no longer being sold in the future? 


  1. This is really interesting. I also feel that I could point out that I never read To Kill A Mockingbird in high school (though my younger sister did read it at the same school). We read a lot of other novels but never this one. In fact, I still haven't read it since I don't really have that much interest in the topic. However, I see no reason the book should not be printed in mass market paperback and taught in schools.
    I hope you have a great rest of the week!

    1. I didn't read To Kill A Mockingbird in high school either, but know many people who did. I didn't read To Kill A Mockingbird until well after finishing college and loved the novel and the characters.

      I can't figure out why the mass market edition of To Kill A Mockingbird needs be discontinued.

  2. I'm really curious as to what went into this decision, especially because it will impact so many schools. I remember reading TKAM for the first time and it's the perfect book to teach racism and how horrible it is. I really hope Harper Lee's estate will release some sort of statement that will let us know why this is happening!

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks

    1. I can't help but think the decision is financially motivated. But who really knows for sure.