My career in books started in the spring of 1976 when I was working at a Volkswagen dealership in Nashua, NH, doing state inspections, lube and oils, and washing the boss’s Porsche. I was not well suited to the work, and noticed I felt most at home in the nearby Paperback Booksmith, where I went on breaks. I walked in one evening after work and begged the manager, Jim Fudge, for a job. Not sure what to make of me, he offered me a shift on the register at $3.00 an hour, but only on Wednesday nights. I was thrilled. Being paid to work in a space full of books and records instead of lug wrenches or snow tires seemed like a good move. Forty-two years later, I can say that it was.
By Tom Hallock | We, as publishers, have important work to do in protecting an open, democratic society that is now under increasing threat. The threat has been growing after decades of disturbing illiberal trends: the growth of corporate power, a widespread anti-intellectualism, the rise of social media echo chambers, pervasive racism, and partisan attacks on the nature and purpose of government. Now we are about to inaugurate a president whose election is a product of these trends, a man whose public statements have been true only fifteen percent of the time according to Politifacts and who regularly disparages science, expert advice, the media, and his critics. As Robert Reich points out, these are the tactics of demagogues. In the face of these threats, publishers have urgent work to do.
By Tom Hallock | Now we get to feel what it’s like to live in extreme weather. The 16’’ of snow we just received, on top of the 80” we already had—most of which arrived in the past three weeks—has changed the way we live and work. We are experiencing the world we’ve created by our collective failure to address climate change and invest in public transportation. Our offices have been closed 5 of the past 15 workdays.
Beacon’s Senior Editor Alexis Rizzuto and Associate Publisher Tom Hallock talk about their experiences at the People’s Climate March and why climate change is fast becoming one of the most important issues of our time.
By Tom Hallock | I first became manager of Coolidge Corner’s Paperback Booksmith (now the Brookline Booksmith) back in 1978, just four years after Judge W. Arthur Garrity’s historic decision to integrate the Boston School District through the “forced busing” of students, as it later became known. It was a time when the fallout over that decision was still shaking the communities of Boston, and a time I revisited when Beacon first published Michael Patrick MacDonald’s All Souls, a powerful account of what it was like to be a young man growing up in Southie during the time when busing came to that neighborhood.
Every year in September, people across the country celebrate Banned Books Week to raise awareness about the problem of censorship. In 2012 alone, there were 464 challenges to books reported to the American Library Association's Office of for Intellectual Freedom. Common complaints include content being unsuitable for an age group, the use of offensive language, sexually explicit material, violence, homosexuality, and religious viewpoints. At Beacon, we support the freedom to read, so we asked staff to recommend some of their favorite banned and challenged books. Read on to find out how they were influenced by these books. Happy Banned Books Week!
By Tom Hallock | Today is Jessie Bennett’s last day at Beacon Press, and I want to take the opportunity to thank her in the space she created. Jessie came to Beacon six years ago, answering the call for someone to fill “a temporary, grant-funded position” to create a blog for the press. In my new hire letter I wrote, “There is a possibility that the position will be funded for a second year.” Thanks to her work, it was funded for a second and then a third, by which time we had come to feel that both the blog and its editor were essential to the work of the press.