Barnes & Noble Cancels Black History Month Covers After Backlash

From The Huffington Post:

Major bookseller Barnes & Noble canceled a Black History Month initiative at its flagship Fifth Avenue store in New York City after public backlash. 

The store planned to host an event Wednesday evening launching its new “Diverse Editions” project, which would showcase ”classic” books ― like “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” and “Moby-Dick” ― with new covers illustrating the main characters as people of color. The store planned to feature the newly jacketed books in its window display all month.

But after significant outrage online, the company canceled the initiative midday Wednesday.

People on Twitter suggested Barnes & Noble promote diversity by featuring works by actual writers of color. Most of the books the bookseller created new covers for, including “Emma” by Jane Austen and “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll, were written by white authors and feature white protagonists.

Link to the rest at The Huffington Post

PG wondered if B&N’s brilliant marketing/virtue-signaling strategy included a black Moby Dick.

7 thoughts on “Barnes & Noble Cancels Black History Month Covers After Backlash”

  1. I sort of get it in the abstract. It was a “let’s try to interest black kids in the classics” idea. Naturally, the classics they decided to choose were ones from the public domain (no pesky royalties) that B&N already sells and could easily produce more of. Unfortunately, as has been pointed out, those were all white classics. Black classics would have involved more effort (and possibly royalties.)

    (sigh)

    If you couple this with the “American Dirt” fiasco, you really wonder what sort of world these people live in.

      • The Uncle Remus stories come to mind. They were well thought of, in the generations after slavery, until the woke community (and cowardly publishers) made them unavailable.

        Certainly the well-integrated Our Gang from the 20s-40s exist in the non-book entertainment world.

        In the wonderful Chuck Jones “Inki & the Minah Bird” collection (Warners Bros), a black boy in Africa stands for Everyman as he confronts the inexplicable chaos of existence. (They’re wonderful cartoons — some of animation’s best mindbenders.) Good luck finding them — buried in the trash heap of woke cancellation.

        We can’t go back to some other place and/or time and wish for something that didn’t exist. Neither we (nor B&N) can magically make that happen.

        And why should we? I bet every woman here read boy’s adventure books when she was a girl (and vice versa — remember Nancy Drew?). If I can be equally entertained by books written from another gender’s POV, from the POV of someone in a different time or place, from the imaginary POV of animals or aliens, for god’s sake, then so can everyone else. What does representation have to do with it?

        The cry of “representative” is a slur that assumes no one can read anything except material that is aimed directly at them. If it didn’t matter to us as kids, why would we assume other kids aren’t equally competent?

        We need more eventual “classics” from whatever sources spawns them, either resurrected from the past or other countries, or newly created. That’s the only fight that matters.

        • Maybe Barnes & Noble will contact you the next time they think about a similar project, Karen.

          I wonder if this was a project approved by the new CEO who will save Barnes & Noble from the knackers, James Daunt.

        • Some how, in SJC Central (aka San Francisco Bay area) I managed to snag a hard copy edition of Uncle Remus for $1 at a library book sale… I admit to finding Uncle Remus hard to read silently.

          BTW, Uncle Remus makes an appearance in Kipling’s wonderful The Complete Stalky and Co in the chapter “United Idolaters”.

          Finally, if you can’t find a hard copy, Uncle Remus is available at Project Gutenburg

  2. I could see that a cover with a black person on it for a story that has a black person as a major character would be okay, but putting black people on the covers of books where there are none strikes me as the equivalent of “black face.” What is remarkable is that whoever thought this up didn’t realize this.

    There again I’m never surprised at the stupidity I read about.

    Also, I follow a black artist who thinks that white people calling people racist is all about “white privilege,” as in making themselves feel important for being better than the person they’re calling out; and making themselves superior in the process.

    Not sure what to make of that. Stupid, smart but stupid, or super smart?

    • I didn’t know Alex Cross was black until half-way through the third Cross book. It’s a bit like Schrodinger’s Cat. Wonder when Patterson knew.

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