The Books They Don't Want You To Read (Why Do So Many Publications Ban Advertisements For My Books?)

I've lost count of the number of broadcasters and publications which have banned me - or tried to censor my work. It was partly to ensure that my books get published without being censored that I started publishing the initial editions myself. (And then selling subsequent rights to other publishers.)

But I'm now also rapidly losing count of the number of publications which have banned advertisements for my books.

Some of the bans are, to say the least, surprising.

The Spectator (which you might think of as a rather free-thinking magazine with an affection for original thought and controversy) has banned advertisements for all my books. The editor, famously tousle-haired Boris Johnson seems to have been particulary upset by my books Rogue Nation and England Our England. The Spectator describes itself as `Informative, irreverent, controversial and intelligent' and claims that it `comprises an elegant, liberating mix of politics, current affairs, literature and the arts'. It seems, however, that the magazine doesn't like too much of a mix, though and doesn't want to be liberating all the time. The Spectator has refused to run any Publishing House advertisements. The Spectator say they are banning our ads because they `received so many letters of complaint, and threats to cancel subscriptions...'. A political publication which shies away from anything criticising America, the EU or the pharmaceutical and medical industries because of readers' complaints, really ought to turn itself into a gardening magazine.

A magazine called Best of British, which rather sounds as if it should be full of patriotic fervour, banned the insert advertisement for England Our England shortly after accepting it. (They sent back a lorry load of inserts which had been specially printed to be included in the magazine.) If you're a subscriber or reader of Best of British you might like to think again and spend your money elsewhere. They aren't alone. A surprisingly long list of magazines have banned advertisements for England Our England and/or Rogue Nation.

Astonishingly, I'm told that even a magazine published by the Council for the Preservation of Rural England has banned an advert for England Our England. Since England (rural or otherwise) won't even exist unless we all fight hard to save it, how could the Council for the Preservation of Rural England do this? How can an organisation which promotes itself as protecting England ban an advert for a book which is intended to keep England alive?

The newsletter What Doctors Don't Tell You (which I had always thought of as being gutsy and critical of the medical establishment) has, to my absolute astonishment, banned advertisements for How To Stop Your Doctor Killing You and SAGA magazine (which is targeted at older readers) has, quite inexplicably, banned advertisements for How To Live Longer.

Why do so many publications ban adverts for my books?

It is, I suppose, impossible to generalise. (Though it is worth making the point that not one publication has refused to carry advertisements because they have found a factual error in a book.)

My books do question Government policies, do pose a real threat to many parts of the Establishment and are a commercial threat to many multinationals. And that, it seems, is what frightens so many editors.

I suspect that an editor who once refused to take any more of my articles might have the answer.

`We can't print your work,' he told me, without any embarrassment, `because you make people think.'


I always thought that was one of an author's main responsibilities.

I hope my books continue to make people think.

Magazines, newspapers and broadcasters may ban them.

But I'll continue to write them.

And they will, I think I can safely guarantee, continue to be published.

Copyright Vernon Coleman 2004