Inside the Push to Diversify the Book Business

1 Like

I’m confused, how am I supposed to react? Books for “white readers” and “black readers” (what happened to all people are equal?) sounds like schools, buses and toilets exclusively for one “race” or the other. But with the unexpected twist: Now that’s a good thing.


Wait till it becomes “intersectional.” :rofl:

But I suppose there has always been niche publishers catering to different authors/audiences.

1 Like

Some white readers are less likely to purchase a book with a black person on the cover. Some black readers would prefer to purchase books with black people on the cover. Publishers are recognizing that black readers are an underserved market, and therefore a potential opportunity. Why do these readily observable facts need to have any political content at all?

(There’s also more to it than cover images. Editorial choices are affected because some topics are seen as more or less interesting to white readers.)

As a writer, I see increasing the audience for books as a good thing, regardless of whether I personally am likely to write or read the specific books in question.


Can you have racism without politics? I mean, yeah, why not appeal to customers who refuse to buy books with the “wrong race” on the covers? Sounds perfectly reasonable.

I don’t think much good will come out of perpetuating ideas like “white readers” vs. “black readers”. Is Uncle Tom’s Cabin a “black story” or a “white story”? I can’t even tell. And that’s how it should be. A good story for a broad audience.


Sure, you can have racism without politics. But I don’t think it’s racist to say that different people have different interests, or that people often enjoy books about people “like them.” Or to observe that publishers have not always considered the interests of all potential readers.

Again, I see increasing the audience for books as a good thing.

1 Like

Yes, people have different interests. Do ethnicities have different interests that are exclusive to their biological heritage? How? All of them?

If you write a book with people in it (or even animals or toys that act like real people), who are not one-dimensional caricatures, at least some should feel “like them” (whoever “them” is around the globe.)

I enjoy watching foreign shows (sometimes a bit too much). Usually the actors don’t look “like me”, they don’t even bother to include a token-of-my-appearence-character. Actually, I’d find that distracting and bit insulting (unless there’s a really good reason for it). I laugh with those people, I cry with them, I morn their losses and root for them. Because I can still relate to their human struggles.

Sounds like leaving money on the table. Which doesn’t sound like publishers. But what do I know.

I think we’re not going to agree on this one (which is fine). Of course increasing the audience is good in general. But I’m not sure if bringing “race” into this will be healthy in the long run.


To the extent that life experiences are affected by ethnicity? Sure.

Did you actually read the linked article? It’s got lots of statistics.

I do find it interesting that when nearly 90% of acquiring editors are white, and nearly 90% of the books they buy are by white authors, and that’s the case for decades, no one says a word about racism.

But suddenly people are very worried because one (1) Black editor has the temerity to suggest that buying more books from Black writers might be good.


I find it difficult to imagine that a black guy from the U.S. shares the same life experiences and develops the same interests as a black girl from Kenya. And not just those two. All “black people”, everywhere, regardless of income and other factors. Common human struggles? Sure. But those are universal anyways.

Nope. I stopped at “white readers”.

Why would they? According to the U.S. census in 1920 almost 90 % of the citizens were “white”, with this percentage falling below 80 % not before the 1990s. So this is the number you’d expect statistically.

One (1) “white” editor suggesting the same (buying more from “white” writers) would be enough to entertain us for days, if not weeks. Rightfully so.


The 1990s were 30 years ago, though.

Further discussion of an article you can’t be bothered to actually read is pointless. Have a pleasant day.

1 Like

That’s about one generation. During this period the “black” population increased by 0.3 %. Zero point three.

Have a nice one, too!


I’m watching an interesting Chinese Historical TV drama series that could be described as CSI of the Tang dynasty. Warning, it is addictive, try not to binge.


A few thoughts.

The comments section of the article is even more interesting than the article. Ever so liberal NYTs readers bashed the article as being an over dose of wokeness.

I am glad I don’t write fiction. Interest in the topic is the only qualification to read it.

Considering the ever increasing rise of self publishing where is the bar from anyone getting their work published?

From what I have seen on this forum many are self published.

Perhaps a poll could be taken as to how many of us:

Self publish.
Use a publishing house.
Do both.


Not everyone has (or wants to develop) the ability to be their own marketing/editing/book design/fulfillment team. Self-published titles, on average, sell fewer copies than conventionally published titles, and of course all of the costs are borne by the author.


But then it is matter of convenience and willing to do what it takes to have your voice heard rather than race.


Well, actually, the ability to self-publish successfully has a lot to do with money, and there are well-known racial disparities in the distribution of wealth in the US. (Which may also contribute to the upper middle class weighting of editorial suites, both in book publishing and other media. Not everyone can afford to accept unpaid internships or jobs that pay poverty wages to “get a foot in the door.”)

And I think the Internet demonstrates pretty conclusively that “ability to get your voice heard” is not necessarily correlated with “having something worthwhile to say.”


If you don’t want to read the article at least read the comments section. NYTs readers are the epitome of liberal yet even they are getting fed up with wokeness and the vast majority of them bashed the article. Some of the comments were interesting and insightful. One commenter even claimed that in Spain, some male authors had to pretend they were female to get their work published.

In the end the publishing business is a business, and if it doesn’t make money they will be forced to change to system that does make a profit.

So glad I don’t write fiction.


I think the whole point of the article is that publishers are seeking to appeal to more readers. Again, as a writer, I applaud all efforts to increase the book-buying audience.

Women have had to use male pseudonyms for centuries.

1 Like

How is that?

A quick search shows that Black authors self publish. Where is the economic hurdle?

Meanwhile, Pittman, who owns Get Write Publishing, says Black authors increasingly are choosing to self-publish to retain artistic freedom and minimize barriers to getting their stories told.

“It’s become easier than ever to create and produce content (as an author),” said Pittman, an author herself and a self-publishing consultant. “Self-publishing is helping to diversify the literary world and everyone is finding their voice.”

And were these famous self-published authors independently wealthy?

I really don’t see your point, self-publishing of ebooks and POD has a very low economic entry point.

So please clarify.


So inclusiveness actually means exclusiveness .

1 Like