From National Public Radio:
Publishing’s big week is almost over. The industry’s annual convention, BookExpo America, ends Friday in New York, and on Saturday the publishing world opens its doors to the public with BookCon, where avid readers will get the chance to mix and mingle with their favorite authors.
Last year, the lack of diversity on author panels at BookCon spawned the We Need Diverse Books campaign, which in turn sparked renewed conversation about the lack of diversity in publishing. Ellen Oh, one of We Need Diverse Books’ co-founders, says anger about the lack of diversity in publishing had been brewing for a long time, but when BookCon announced its guest list last year, it struck a nerve.
“It was 30 authors that were all white and the only diversity was the Grumpy Cat,” she says. “And I think at that point the anger and the disappointment of a lot of people just kind of overflowed and we decided to really talk about why this was so important.”
The campaign, aimed at the lack of diversity in kids’ books, urged people of all ages to tweet about why diverse books were so important to them. It used the hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooks, and the response was enormous. “These were clear reflections … that diversity was not just important to a small section of authors who had been talking about it for years; that it was actually important to the world,” Oh says.
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Among the authors who will be taking part in BookCon is Daniel José Older. His panel will address the issue of diversity in science fiction. Older thinks the diverse books campaign did provoke a wider discussion in the publishing world, and he has seen some change in the past year, but he says the industry has a long way to go. “I think we have yet to see how deeply rooted that change is,” he says. “So it’s one thing to put the word ‘diversity’ on banners and things like that, and then it’s another to actually achieve equity and stop racist practices in publishing. Those are two different things.”
Link to the rest at NPR and thanks to Sandra for the tip.
PG says one of the greatest weaknesses of Big Publishing is its insularity.