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Well, This Looks Interesting

So I found the following while poking around in some of the things rachelmanija had linked in her post about the on-the-cover whitewashing of the lead character in Justine Larbelastier's novel Liar. And coincidentally, I had already found it earlier today, on the previous break, when I was looking for people talking about Verb Noire on the Intarwebs. Clearly, Someone Is Trying to Tell Me Something:

White Readers Meet Black Authors
http://www.welcomewhitefolks.blogspot.com/
"Your official invitation into the African American section of the bookstore! A sometimes serious, sometimes light-hearted plea for EVERYBODY to give a black writer a try."

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
jedishampoo
Jul. 24th, 2009 09:54 pm (UTC)
That's just.... nuts. Why would they do that? Sigh. I am disheartened.
chomiji
Jul. 24th, 2009 10:28 pm (UTC)

You mean, about the book cover? Caution carried to the extreme of cowardice, as far as I can tell. The publisher (not just that particular publisher, either) claims that having people of color on the covers of books has a negative effect on sales.

jedishampoo
Jul. 24th, 2009 10:47 pm (UTC)
Maybe they're just afraid of giving it too much "ethnic" flavor? I read on the posts that they wanted a picture of a girl... But still. It was a bad decision.
chomiji
Jul. 25th, 2009 03:50 am (UTC)

I think the publishers are just - not - getting - it. The analogy that was made about the music industry - that people, and especially teens, have no problem buying music by artists of color - is an interesting one.

smillaraaq
Jul. 25th, 2009 04:59 am (UTC)
And of course the idea that not all their potential customers are white either, just goes WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSH right over their heads.

(BRB, off to demand a massive refund from Borders on grounds of being a figment of my own imagination.)
geri
Jul. 25th, 2009 01:54 am (UTC)
That is very nice of you to post up. Sometimes you'd be surprised out here in brooklyn some of the ignorant, ranting i here about black/white authors if the front cover and the back cover catch my attention nine out ten times i'm going to buy to read it. They color of the author has nothing to do with it.

When i first got serious about reading none school books. It was romance novels that caught my attention! If i had to calculate i would say i've read over three hundred thousand romance novels. I literally read a book a day. In school out of school anywhere i went i had a book with me. I'm still the same way to this day!
chomiji
Jul. 25th, 2009 03:57 am (UTC)

Well, some of the things I've been hearing about "business as usual" in the publishing industry are making my blood boil. It's just not right. All kinds of crap gets published, and really good stories are being tossed into the slush pile because the publishers are being idiots and assuming none of us can identify with a character who's a different race.

Romance novels ... oh dear, I cannot deal with romance novels! I believe in love for sure, but not the way it usually goes in a romance novel. In many ways, I'm still the same geeky tomboy I was at 12.

XD

smillaraaq
Jul. 28th, 2009 04:58 am (UTC)
All kinds of crap gets published, and really good stories are being tossed into the slush pile because the publishers are being idiots and assuming none of us can identify with a character who's a different race.

The further-infuriating flip side of that is they're also apparently assuming that non-white readers either are sticking exclusively to the little ghettoized "$ETHNIC interest" sections of the bookstore, don't read a particular genre, or just don't exist in the first place...mythical dinocorns, the lot of us!

And it seems like romance publishing, outside of some niche lines, has the same sort of maddening issues. Take the Marjorie Liu Dirk and Steele series for instance -- she's writing a very diverse world, lots of major and minor POC characters, and most of the central romantic pairings are interracial. But the publishers seem to be going to almost comical lengths to not show any of the non-white characters clearly on the covers: the only times the POC heroes or heroines have even made it into the cover art, their appearance is been rendered ambiguous by pose and lighting. The Asian heroine on the cover of The Red Heart of Jade is seen from the back, with only a sliver of her face visible in one-quarter profile; the African hero of The Last Twilight is shown in the background, from the back, with no part of his face visible, and dim lighting and misty effects making it difficult to get a clear idea of the color of his skin or texture of his hair. But the white heroes and heroines don't get such coy depictions -- full profile, with lighting good enough to clearly make out facial features and light skin and hair, is as close to obscure as they get. (OK, if you want to be nit-picky M'Cal from Soul Song is sort of hapa...but since he's a shapeshifting half-human/half-mer, and shown in his most human form which seems to take after his white human dad, I can't really give them even partial credit here -- especially since they're carefully NOT showing the curly-haired, brown-skinned biracial human heroine.)

geri
Jul. 25th, 2009 05:29 am (UTC)
Yes i've read other books besides those but that was the first series of books i was given and so i ran with them for a few years but after a while i got into reading materials, other main stream books but to me the color of an author never even came across my mind it was what were in the pages that intrigue me the most.

I try to instill in my daughters to pick up a book and read no matter what the story is about as long as they read it.

But a lot of the black authors that i see are self publishers.

So i guess they don't have to worry about the companies throwing there books out, and it is very sad indeed to read that a
lot of the publishing companies are denying a person of (color)/ (minorities) the chance to possibly fulfill their dreams by tossing aside their hard work and efforts to get a book put out there for our or anybodies enjoyment.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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