Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Bloomsbury Cover Fail

I first heard about Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore and its problematic cover yesterday, thanks to Ranay's post. I went on to read more posts and more comments about this, and now I'll try to gather my own thoughts on the subject.
It has happened once again, that a publisher, Bloomsbury in this case, has chosen the picture of a white girl to represent the main character in the book, who is actually dark-skinned.
It's a fantasy book, so the main character doesn't have a real ethnicity, but to quote the author's own words:

Nimira is from a fictional land which is not meant to be a parallel to a specific country in our world. Her culture has elements, such as costume and music, that might be drawn from Eastern European, Asian and Roma cultures, and I love that readers are interpreting her look in different ways.
Now, the issue is definitely NOT with the author. Quite the opposite. The problem here is the publisher and whoever is in charge of the marketing. I'm not going to talk about the book itself. It actually sounds like something I would really like, and I'm looking forward to reading it, especially after seeing the author's personal blog and discovering such an interesting person behind the book. I don't want to hurt her or her book in any possible way, especially since it's her first, and I can only imagine how over the moon she is feeling right now. I don't want to spoil this special moment.

But something needs to be said, and I believe the more people show concern and outrage about this issue, the more likely our collective voice is to be heard. This kind of exclusion towards non-white people from book covers is unacceptable. If you think the same, let the publisher know. I did. Their contact page is here.

But instead of pouring your anger onto this particular book by calling for a boycott, and thus hurting a young author's expectations, why not show our thirst for diversity in books by reading and reviewing more of them? Chasing Ray has an excellent and inspiring post about why diversity in kids and YA matters and how we should demand it more. READ IT!
I know I don't read enough of them these days. And since I'm a white person, living in a western country with mostly white friends, I sometimes forget how important this is. I forget because I can, not because I want to. This is not an excuse, though. That's why I'm going to actively try and include more ethnic diversity into my reading and search for books about non-white people (kids and adults) which are not about Afro-American slaves or about the holocaust.
And then I will spread the word about them!



That was a lovely post you wrote. I agree that it's not the author's fault. They don't have control over their cover. :)

Nymeth said...

The reason why I came around to the idea of a boycott is that I don't believe it would hurt her in the long run...I think that ultimately it would help any author in her position, who got screwed over by a publisher and had their vision twisted. But I see your point's a delicate issue. I also think that to work, a boycott couldn't be of THIS book in particular, lest they think that anything to do with POC is "problematic" and stay away from it in the future. It would have to be of the publisher in general.