I remember reading some articles a couple of years back about the blatant whitewashing that publishers inflict on the covers of books, most notably young adult titles. The issue was highlighted at that time by the release of Justine Larbalestier’s new novel, Liar, which featured a black teenage protagonist; yet Bloomsbury opted to display a white girl on the American cover, despite the protests from Larbalestier herself and other readers.
On her blog, Larbalestier wrote on the matter:
Editors have told me that their sales departments say black covers don’t sell. Sales reps have told me that many of their accounts won’t take books with black covers. Booksellers have told me that they can’t give away YAs with black covers. Authors have told me that their books with black covers are frequently not shelved in the same part of the library as other YA—they’re exiled to the Urban Fiction section—and many bookshops simply don’t stock them at all.
How welcome is a black teen going to feel in the YA section when all the covers are white? Why would she pick up Liar when it has a cover that so explicitly excludes her?
Thankfully, after much pressuring on the issue, Bloomsbury did release a new cover with a more fitting model featured, but I still think it’s sad that a protest to get them to do so was even needed in the first place, and sadder still that this sort of whitewashing and racist discrimination continues to happen within the publishing industry.
Goes to show you that you really can’t judge a book by it’s cover.
More links to articles and blogs on this subject: