Posted in: rambling racism shelving and marketing
Of course it’s sad, but it isn’t new.
As you can see, the cover clearly features a white girl, with long hair, however, apparently Larbalestier’s lead is a black girl with very short hair.
Here’s part of the Galleycat article:
When YA fantasy author Justine Larbalestier gave her fans a first look at the American cover for Liar, back in April, she was understandably excited: “This cover was so well received by sales and marketing at Bloomsbury that for the first time in my career a cover for one of my books became the image used for the front of the catalogue,” she blogged. “Apparently all the big booksellers went crazy for it. My agent says it was a huge hit in Bologna. And at TLA many librarians and teenagers told me they adore this cover.”
The love, however, is not universal. Earlier this week, an unnamed “outraged, nauseous, [and] flabbergasted” children’s book editor blogging at Editorial Anonymous took issue with the cover, noting that Liar is about a young girl who is “black, with very short hair, and is mistaken for a boy early on in the book by teachers and fellow students,” which is pretty much the exact opposite of the model who has wound up on the dust jacket…
As Alicia, a YA librarian blogger, frames the question: “Did the publishers not want to put a black girl on the cover for fear of not selling enough books to their white customers?”…
To address these complaints, Larbalestier has written a new blog post, revealing that she fought that cover every step of the way: “I never wanted a girl’s face on the cover,” she says. “Bloomsbury has had a lot of success with photos of girls on their covers and that’s what they wanted. Although not all of the early girl face covers were white, none showed girls who looked remotely like Micah. I strongly objected to all of them. I lost.”
As Jane commented on Twitter earlier, what was the point in saying how much she loved the cover originally, then coming out and saying that she fought against it, once somebody else raised the issue?
Surely she’d have been better off saying nothing, after the criticisms started pouring in? Which version should we believe? Did she truly fight against the cover, or did she love the cover?
The article continues:
But, she continues, she’s not alone in finding her fiction “white-washed” by her publisher:
“Editors have told me that their sales departments say black covers don’t sell. Sales reps have told me that many of their accounts won’t take books with black covers. Booksellers have told me that they can’t give away YAs with black covers. Authors have told me that their books with black covers are frequently not shelved in the same part of the library as other YA—they’re exiled to the Urban Fiction section—and many bookshops simply don’t stock them at all.”
It’s not like this is a new thing. Remember Millenia Black’s struggles?
Just like you rarely see a book about a rubenesque heroine with an actual rubenesque woman on the cover, publishers seem reluctant to have black faces on book covers unless the book is actually aimed at black people.
It really does seem that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
I wonder if the time will ever come, when a book can be judged purely by the content of its pages, rather than the colour of the faces on its cover?