This may sound like wish-fulfillment to some of the more militantly anti-Big Media types among us, but six UK publishers and book world figures have gone to jail in London. No, it’s not for price fixing, nor for defrauding would-be authors through Author Solutions-style vanity press gouging. Instead, they did it voluntarily – and in a good cause.
Pavilion Books’ “A Night in the Cells” was staged in support of the campaign by Britain’s Howard League for Penal Reform against the British government’s widely condemned ban on sending books to prisoners. The cells were actually in a disused London police lockup underneath the headquarters of Pavilion Books, whose CEO Polly Powell joined Society of Authors chair Anna Sebba, Pavilion publishing consultant and organizer David Graham, Hachette UK deputy CEO David Young, Conville & Walsh literary agent Clare Conville, and Profile Books founding MD Andrew Franklin, in the cells overnight. All had a book for company overnight – something denied many British prisoners by the current UK government.
“I hope our small contribution to the campaign to overturn the pointlessly cruel and unnecessary decision to refuse prisoners the right to receive books will make a difference,” said Polly Powell.
“Books and essentials such as underwear should not be seen as perks or privileges. Reading books goes hand in hand with education, with rehabilitation, with humanity,” states the Howard League. “We should do everything we can to encourage reading and not restrict a prisoner’s access to books.”