Aspen Institute Looks at a Publishing Industry Challenged to Embrace Diversity

From Publishing Perspectives:

As discussion in the world publishing industry accelerates around issues of diversity and inclusivity, the Aspen Institute has included a publishing-specific session in its series of “Changing the Narrative” programs.

. . . .

“There are few people of color who serve as publishing staff or literary agents, and even fewer who operate at decision-making levels.

“The recent Twitter protest #PublishingPaidMe exposed the major pay disparities in the industry between Black and other authors. As a result, Black writers struggle to receive the same marketing exposure, even as readers continue to find and demonstrate their enthusiasm for the titles that do get published.”

. . . .

In June, for example, we reported on the quite remarkable statement issued by the Association of University Presses, in which the organization denounced “the white supremacist structure upon which so many of our presses were built”—still perhaps the most searing self-indictment by a major sector made yet.

Many inequities during the peak of the reactions to the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis were brought into focus around a “Publishing Day of Action” in early June, when many of the findings of the Lee and Low study on the overall industry’s diversification status came into play.

Another profound moment of change was signaled when John Sargent, CEO of Macmillan, established a company-guiding Trade Management Committee to lead the Big Five house’s efforts in diversity and inclusion.

. . . .

In Tuesday’s program, some of the issues under consideration are expected to involve ways the book publishing industry can use this moment of what many hope is a racial reckoning to bring more racial diversity to the field. How can the industry employ and publish more books by—and for—people of color?

Many are convinced that such changes have to come from the inside out. If the industry can’t offer the content that a consumer base that looks like its market needs and wants, there’s every chance that the staffing traditions—as the Association of University Presses courageously said—simply aren’t drawing on a workforce that reflects a way forward.

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

Racism – Yet another reason to avoid doing business with Big Publishing.