Friday, December 23, 2016

Pantsuit Nation Founder Clarifies Book Deal and Nonprofit Status After Criticism

Publishers Lunch

Earlier this week the founder of the private Facebook group Pantsuit Nation faced criticism and controversy following the announcement of coffee-table book comprising member posts set to be published in May by Flatiron Books. Founded by Libby Chamberlain in October for Hillary Clinton supporters to express enthusiasm for their candidate, and then a place for them to commiserate after Clinton's election loss, at least some vocal members of the nearly four-million person group took issue with the book deal, as a "betrayal of safe space" and for seeming to sell the group out.

In a public
follow-up Facebook message, Chamberlain clarified how member posts will be handled in the book: "Participation in the book is voluntary. No post, image, comment, name, or other information shared in the group will be used in the book without explicit, written permission (and a legal release to use the material) from the author and/or photographer. I have not shared anything from within this group with anyone outside the group. I will personally be in touch with every potential contributor to the book to clarify this process, answer any questions, and make sure that permission is being given with a full understanding of how the post and any accompanying information will be used."

Chamberlain added that Flatiron "would have preferred I waited another month [to announce the book deal] until more information was available" but she wanted to announce the publication "the same day as the nonprofits were formed." Both projects, Chamberlain said, "are two sides of the same coin. The book will support the non-profits and the non-profits will support the book. The non-profits will be fully transparent, and will engage in the work of advocacy, education, and political activism. We will also use the Pantsuit Nation non-profits as a way to raise money for other likeminded nonprofits (like Planned Parenthood, ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, etc.), by matching contributions given by our members for our weekly calls to action, for example, or through direct fundraising."

Comments on Chamberlain's post ranged from praise to criticism and questions over whether contributors would be paid for material they contribute to the book. (The implication for now is that they will not, since Chamberlain says "we're collaborating on a book...rather than ask each of you to donate money.")

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