The Paula Deen empire was hit with another major blow yesterday when Ballantine Books announced the cancellation of its deal with the Queen of Southern Cooking. It was a surprising decision, as Deen’s latest cookbook, “Paula Deen’s New Testament: 250 Favorite Recipes, All Lightened Up” had been scheduled for release in October 2013 and is currently ranked number 1 on Amazon. The book shot up the chart following a wave of pre-orders as Deen's fans responded to the controversy. Ballantine also announced the cancellation of the five book deal it signed with Ms. Deen last year, said to be worth millions.
Deen’s descent began earlier this month, when a transcript of testimony she gave during a deposition in connection with a lawsuit against one of her restaurants was released. In her testimony, Deen admitted to using the N-word in the past and discussed her idea for a pre-civil war themed dinner featuring middle-aged black waiters in white jackets. Once the information was released, Deen’s business empire began to topple. In the weeks since, the Food Network cancelled her popular show and deals with Smithfield Foods, Novo Nordisk, Home Depot, Walmart, Sears, J.C. Penny, Target and Caesars Entertainment have all been ended. Paula Deen failed to appear for a promised spot on the Today show last week. She since released several video apologies. Wednesday, Deen appeared on the Today Show for an interview with Matt Lauer. "I am here today because I want the world to know who I am," she told Lauer. When asked if she felt she had been treated fairly by the businesses with which she is associated, Deen said, "Would I have fired me? No. Knowing me? No."
Deen’s fans are rallying, offering support via social media and lines at her restaurants. The response to Deen’s annual cruise has been so committed, a second cruise has been added. It remains to be seen whether another publisher will be willing to work with Paula Deen under the current climate.