By Virginia Langmaid and Brandon Tensley, CNN
Dante Lee thought he was opening an investment book. But what he found inside shocked and appalled him.
In a TikTok video posted this month, Lee says he was looking forward to reading “From the Block to the Bank: How to Make the Most of Your Circumstance to Maximize Your Full Potential” by his friend, Ash Cash, a Black author and financial adviser who’s written at least nine books.
However, when Lee opened his new copy of the book, which Cash self-published with a company called Lulu.com, he didn’t find any investment advice.
“Look at what I see as soon as I open the book: a picture of Hitler,” Lee says in the video. “And I’m wondering, ‘Why does he have a picture of Hitler in his book?’ So, I scroll back to one of the first pages, and I realize: This is not his book. This is a book about Hitlerism.”
The copy Lee received had Cash’s cover on it but a book by an entirely different author inside. Holding the book up to the camera, Lee says every page has a small swastika next to the page number.
In an Instagram post about the incident, Cash expressed shock.
“My friend Dante Lee bought my book, and sadly it was laced with RACIST HITLER CONTENT and Nazi signs … thanks to a ‘mistake’ by Lulu Publishing,” Cash wrote.
Kathy Hensgen, the president and CEO of Lulu, said the book Lee received was the result of a print error.
“Lulu is a print-on-demand book printing company, with each book ordered being printed at the time of order, and on rare occasions there are print errors where a cover is mismatched with an interior of a different book,” Hensgen told CNN in a Wednesday email.
Matt Briel, Lulu’s vice president of marketing, said the company hadn’t already banned the Nazi book because Lulu didn’t know it existed until Cash’s incident.
“We did not know of its existence until Ash Cash logged a ticket and we investigated,” Briel told CNN in a Thursday email.
Lulu has since banned the title.
“Once we ban a book and shut down the user account for violating our terms, it’s impossible for the book files to get transmitted to the print facility,” Briel wrote.
He said the company hasn’t heard whether more copies of the Nazi book with the wrong cover are in circulation, but the Nazi book could resurface.
“As a DIY self-publishing platform, this is something we are always faced with,” Briel wrote. “Just like social media, though, there are times where we remove content and close the account, but they just create a new one at some point and try again. We continually work to make sure this content doesn’t make it onto our platform.”
Hensgen called the incident “the most disheartening mistake in the 20-year history” of the company.
“Lulu has always and will continue to champion Black entrepreneurs in our global community,” she wrote in the Wednesday email. “This awful mistake is one that hurt us to the core.”
A media representative for Cash told CNN that the author’s attorney has advised him not to speak with the media.
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