John Oliver's gay rabbit story is now infuriating booksellers

John Oliver's gay rabbit story is now infuriating booksellers

It’s fair to say audiences have been divided by John Oliver’s brilliant reimagining of the Pence family’s pet rabbit, Marlon Bundo, as a gay hero fighting for acceptance.

Earlier this month, the comedian presented his own take on Marlon Bundo’s Day in the Life of the Vice President, a children’s book written by Pence’s daughter and illustrated by his wife.

Amazingly, his version quickly outsold the original, outraging Pence’s right-wing supporters. But now, independent booksellers are mad too.

As the book was announced on Oliver’s show as an on-air exclusive, publisher Chronicle Books needed to make it available as quickly as possible. This involved initially releasing it as an Amazon exclusive –but independent booksellers are not happy they're missing out on sales.

In an e-mail apology, Chronicle Books president Tyrrell Mahoney explained:

After much deliberation and exploration of other options, we ultimately agreed to make the book available for purchase at the time of the on-air surprise by allocating a percentage of the print run to Amazon and making the rest of the first print run available to all our other retailers as soon as possible.

Publishers Weekly expanded on the story, outlining that numerous retailers were irritated by an alleged lack of communication. Their frustrations are doubly understandable in the context of the independent bookshop industry – last year, for example, the number of UK independent branches continued to fall for the 11th consecutive year.

But there is a silver lining.

The popularity of Oliver’s gay rabbit, conceived as a commentary on Pence’s famous anti-LGBT+ stance, has skyrocketed.

Chronicle is now working with multiple printers to meet this demand, producing hundreds of thousands of copies for sale. It’s good news for all – with Marlon the gay rabbit truly becoming the hero we never knew we needed.

HTPublishers Weekly

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