Credit Naomi Klein with thinking outside the box. Where others see boycotts in terms of only yes or no, she's found a way to see them as sometime, sort of things.
All this came up during a talk she gave at the Steelworkers Hall last Friday to kick off a conference of the Alliance of Concerned Jewish Canadians. The group is looking for ways to organize in an effort to develop an alternative to the "official Jewish lobby" in Canada, specifically on policies regarding Israel.
Klein's talk was wide-ranging, dealing with points she presses in her book The Shock Doctrine but what caught my interest was the way she's navigated the publishing waters in order to promote her book without getting her hands too dirty with Indigo books here in Canada and with the mainstream economy in Israel.
What exactly does a dissident do when Indigo Books controls 80 per cent of the book distribution in Canada and is owned and operated by people who have supported the Lone Soldier campaign to give scholarships to men outside Israel who join the Israeli army.
The easy answer is: stay away. But then you've taken a sizable chunk out of your opportunity to get the book read.
Klein's solved the problem with a deft approach. She refused to do a single reading or signing in an Indigo store and on her website, steered people to independent bookstores to buy the book.
But she did not decide to keep the book out of Indigo stores. To quote the follow-up note she sent to me:
"Chapters/Indigo, which has very controversially managed to gain control over the vast majority of Canada's retail book market, has a responsibility not to discriminate against books that are critical of its corporate practices. If they retaliate against me because of my personal choice, they will only show how dangerous this level of corporate consolation is to democracy."
So the book remains in stores though she personally won't walk through the door.
When it comes to promoting and selling The Shock Doctrine in Israel itself, Klein has chosen to have her book translated from English to Hebrew by Andalus.
Until Klein came along, Andalus exclusively published translations of Arabic books into Hebrew. Sometimes they do bilingual and trilingual books. The Shock Doctrine will be the first book they are publishing in translation from English to Hebrew.
Klein says she will receive no advance or royalties from the sales of the Hebrew edition of The Shock Doctrine and that all proceeds from the sale of the book will finance Andalus's Arabic translation work.
Pretty damned creative. While there have been calls for a boycott of Israel's economy, Klein has again taken a more subtle approach. She's staying away from Israel's mainstream economy and getting active in the alternative economy instead.