Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Another Cover Fail From Bloomsbury USA

I'm reading The Prince of Fenway Park by Julianna Baggott as a Cybils judge. It has an illustration on the cover of a cute black boy. Last Wednesday, I showed the book to my friend and fellow editor Blessie. She exclaimed, "This boy isn't white! This book won't sell because the boy on the cover isn't white!" Then Blessie rolled her eyes and we both burst out laughing at the ABSURDITY of that logic. We were remembering the cover fail of Bloomsbury USA back in July 2009. Bloomsbury had used a cover with a white teenage girl for Liar by Justine Larbalestier, a YA novel with a black teenage girl as the main character. The cover was later changed.

Why am I bringing this all up? Because Bloomsbury USA has made the same mistake with the YA novel Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore. Magic Under Glass has a dark-skinned female protagonist. Here is the cover of the book:


Why, Bloomsbury? Why? Whitewashing covers is RACIST. Thinking that books with people of color on the cover won't sell is RACIST. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Shame on you, Bloomsbury. I won't be buying any of your books until you stop whitewashing your book covers.

Dear readers, click here and here to read Ari of Reading In Color's thoughts on the issue. Ari has also posted links to other blog posts.

7 comments:

MissAttitude said...

Thank you for blogging about this important issue! I'm so annoyed with bloomsbury, I can't stand it. Whitewashing covers is racist, intentionally. If it's unintentional then it's ignorant, but I don't think this was uinintentional. There's no reason why publishing houses shouldn't consult with authors to make sure their covers represent the books. Then we wouldn't be in this mess. But hopefully it will start more discussion and dialogue.

Tarie said...

I hope bloggers (myself included) will use this as a reminder to buy and review more books by people of color and/or with characters of color!

susan said...

Speaking of reviews, Tarie, would love to have a new review from you.

I tried playing nice and all it got me was the same status quo. Do see current TIC post at Color Online and Celebrating MLK with A Protest at Black-Eyed Susan's.

I'm more than angry. I'm taking action.

Tarie said...

Hi, Susan! I'm going to email you soon about something new I can contribute to Color Online.

Thanks for your action! I will boycott Bloomsbury USA, too. I have asked my friends to do the same.

loudnoiseat2am said...

Not to sound like a total dick but people do judge books by their covers in the same way they judge movies by their posters. Well, maybe only people in the UK do. From a marketing standpoint, if Caucasians on book covers sell more copies than other ethnicity, then it only makes sense for publishers to put white people on covers.

I'm not saying it's right, it just makes money-sense. But here's the rub (or maybe just the other side of the coin): I totally believe that people who make such a big deal out of "imagined" transgressions against one's race or another's is in itself just as harmful and racist.

In other words, aren't people who see racial transgressions also being racist themselves?

I am a human being, which is what I want to be treated as. The color of my skin shouldn't matter on all levels. And as a human being, I have preferences and biases. Just because I don't date black women doesn't mean I'm a racist. In the same light, just because, as a publisher, I decide white people sell doesn't mean I'm all about the whiteheads. Listen, you've written your book, I didn't tell you to change your protagonist's ethnicity. Don't tell me how to sell it. That's my job. If you're so great, maybe you should self-publish and see where that takes you.

Okay, I'm not really a publisher but I'm just trying to get a point across.

I really don't see a big deal here. Whitewashing? I think not. Are people who have read the books or will read the books you mentioned be turned off if they discover the protagonists to be not of the race represented in the covers? If no, then where's the harm? If yes, then these people have issues that will not be helped by purchasing a YA book.

Now, there is an exception to this profane principle: How important is the race of the protagonist in the story anyway? If it's Toni Morrison's Beloved, then I would blow up if they put a blond-haired, blue-eyed girl on the cover because the book is about a black girl struggling with racial issues. But otherwise, why is it so important ONE WAY OR THE OTHER what color the cover image is?

Anonymous said...

Now, there is an exception to this profane principle: How important is the race of the protagonist in the story anyway? If it's Toni Morrison's Beloved, then I would blow up if they put a blond-haired, blue-eyed girl on the cover because the book is about a black girl struggling with racial issues. But otherwise, why is it so important ONE WAY OR THE OTHER what color the cover image is?


Have you even read the book?

Tarie said...

loudnoiseat2am, hi! Thanks for weighing in.

I believe that publishers intentionally keeping people of color off book covers because they think it will diminish the book is institutional racism.

I do not believe that recognizing racial transgressions is being racist. Calling out racism and trying to stop it is not racism. It's fighting racism.

Lastly, I wouldn't want anyone to ignore the fact that I am a Filipina. It's a part of who I am. I think people should see, respect, and celebrate the similarities across the races AND the differences.

We will just have to agree to disagree. :o)

Have you read posts from Reading In Color, Color Online, Black-Eyed Susan's, and Chasing Ray? These ladies argue for these points in a much more articulate and eloquent way than me.