The Half-Price Books Union, and Also, Australia

I’ve been traveling the last couple of days, and am about to be traveling for two weeks straight after that, so I’ve posted my usual “hey, I’m traveling, don’t expect a reply” email auto responder. This means that if you were hoping to get an email response from me about something, bad news, friend, you’ll have to wait until October at least. Sorry (exceptions are made for Tor staff, my agent/manager/lawyer, and Krissy and Athena, the latter two being more likely to just call or text in either event).

Be that as it may, a couple of things popped into my email queue under the wire that had requests of a public nature, so I thought I would address them here quickly.

First, I got an email from a member of the Half-Price Books Union, basically saying, hey, you’re going to be at the chain’s flagship store in Dallas on your tour, can you fly the flag a little bit? It appears the company is being a smidge resistant to union activity, although as far as I can tell there’s no strike being called.

The chances are very good that in my tour-zombie state I might have it slip my mind in the moment, so I thought it better to note it here, now, while it is on the top of my mind. So, basically: I think it’s no surprise that I support unions in general, and given that actual union activity is a plot point in Starter Villain, it would be remiss for me not to say that obviously I support unionization, not only at Half-Price Books but also for any bookstore chain. If memory serves there was a recent one-day strike at Powell’s headquarters for similar reasons.

Booksellers rock and deserve fair wages and benefits and all of those good things, and — strangely! — the collective power that come from unions helps with that. So, yeah, the Half-Price Books Union has my support here. Easy call!

Second, my pal Liz in Australia asked if I could share a video in support of the Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum that is underway in Australia. My immediate response to this request, being a citizen of the United States, was “bwuh?” to which Liz very helpfully sent along this explainer of what the referendum is on and entails. I found it useful to understanding things, and I can likewise recommend it to anyone (and especially Australians) who are wondering whether or not to support the referendum.

Having thus been somewhat enlightened, I am happy to now share the requested video, which features Australian music legend John Farnham’s song “You’re the Voice” in support of the referendum. My understanding is that the US equivalent would be Bruce Springsteen allowing one of his signature songs to be used to support a constitutional amendment, so there you have it.

And now, my email is officially asleep until October.

— JS

17 Comments on “The Half-Price Books Union, and Also, Australia”

  1. Even not understanding the issues, I found myself crying through the video!

    Also, unions rock!

    Safe travels, John. I will just mention that I got COVID from a friend who just flew in from Europe.

  2. Thanks for that John, the Liberal Party here is really playing dirty pool in regard to this referendum. It’s worth noting that this is the first time John Farnham has allowed one of his songs to be used for anything political, and he gave it free — although the Liberals would like everyone to think he’s making megabucks from it.

  3. A quick note to avoid a lot of confusion in this discussion: the capital-L “Liberal Party” is not in any way lower-case-L liberal. They are part of the deeply conservative side of politics.

    It’s a bit like how the US Republicans seem hell-bent on destroying your republic.

  4. Thank you John for supporting the Voice! The Springsteen analogy is excellent.

    Changing our constitution is deliberately difficult, it’s a high bar to get done. I’m a white fella, but I encourage anyone who doesn’t feel directly affected by this because they are not Aboriginal or TS Islander to read and consider the polite request of the vast majority of those who are, which is the simple 1 page Uluṟu Statement from the Heart:

  5. You aren’t obligated to support any cause or candidate. You don’t even have an obligation to your readers.

    However, I do appreciate that you aren’t a dick, but a mensch. That makes the choice to read your books easier. You are one of the good guys.

    I’ll drag my old ass out to meet you and thank you for the good reads the next time you get close to Houston.

  6. I don’t have a vote in the Australian referendum on the Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

    I did see the Farnham ad in full, though. Note-perfect to the purpose. Farnham licensing it to the “yes” side free of charge makes it even better.

  7. I commented on Camestros Felapton’s blog:

    “Boatloads of colonists arrived centuries ago under the auspices of an imperial power, and the usual tragedy ensued. Constitutional guarantees for indigenous Australians, no matter how limited, are the LEAST that can be done. I’m voting yes.”

    The No campaign plays up the zero-sum-game idea: “Anything given to Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders is something taken away from you, the average Australian.” I am hoping that Australians will not fall for that specious reasoning on October 14.

  8. I love Half Price Books. I would be seriously bummed if I stopped shopping there because they are shitty employers.

  9. :: the capital-L “Liberal Party” is not in any way lower-case-L liberal. ::

    Mark Whybird, my Australian friend Terry Frost (a SF fan and SF/cult movie host of the YouTube channel “Terry Talks Movies”) explained to me once that the Australian Liberal Party is “liberal” if you remember that their Conservatives were Royalists who wanted a titled Aristocracy and to be treated as a part of Great Britain!

  10. Did you mean to say you would be remiss to -not- say that obviously you support unionization?

    Thanks for saying it and for the additional information on HPB and Australia! :)

    Enjoy the email hiatus.

  11. As part of wishing you a successful book tour, I wish to thank you for Stater Villain. I have just finished it and found it delightful from start to finish. Your dolphins surprised me! Thank you!

  12. Thank you for your support of the Voice. The authoritarian party over here is blatantly lying every step they can to squash it.

  13. @Stephen Stanford I received some propaganda from them which said, amongst other crap, “If you don’t know, say no!”. I replied, mostly to make them pay for their reply paid envelope, and started with: “Let me fix that little catchphrase for you. ‘If you don’t know, say no” should read “If you don’t know, find out’ surely?”