Paula Deen’s publisher has canceled a deal with her for multiple books, including an upcoming cookbook that was the No. 1 seller on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com, following her admission she used a racial slur.
Ballantine Books announced Friday it would not release “Paula Deen’s New Testament: 250 Favorite Recipes, All Lightened Up,” which was scheduled for October and was the first of a five-book deal announced early last year. Interest in it had surged as Deen, who grew up in Albany, Ga., and specializes in Southern comfort food, came under increasing attack for acknowledging she had used the N-word.
Ballantine, an imprint of Random House Inc., said it had decided to cancel the book’s publication after “careful consideration.” It had no comment beyond what was in its brief statement, spokesman Stuart Applebaum said.
Later Friday, Deen’s literary agent, Janis Donnaud, said that the entire deal had been called off.
“I am confident that these books will be published and that we will have a new publisher,” said Donnaud, who declined to comment on whether she had heard from other publishers.
The trouble for Deen started when comments she made in a court deposition became public. During the deposition in a discrimination lawsuit filed by an ex-employee, Deen admitted using the N-word in the past but denied using it to describe waiters.
Deen said she’s not a racist during a tearful “Today” show interview but has lost many of her business relationships. Sears Holdings Corp. and J.C. Penney Co. said Friday that they were cutting ties with Deen following similar announcements from Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp. and Home Depot.
Last week, the Food Network said that it would not renew her contract. She also was dropped by Smithfield Foods, Caesars Entertainment stripped her name from restaurants and drug company Novo Nordisk said it was suspending its work with her.
Publishers have pulled a wide range of books over the years, usually because of plagiarism, fabrications or other issues with the books themselves. Ballantine’s decision highlights a problem for Deen even when the product itself has not been challenged and is in high demand.
Some outlets that might have sold her books, such as Target and Wal-Mart, have cut ties with her. Other stores likely would have been reluctant to promote her new book or to invite her for personal appearances.
Because “Paula Deen’s New Testament” was months away from release, no copies had been printed. All purchases had been pre-orders, so refunds aren’t necessary.