There were quite a few book-related and very thought-provoking posts this week, so I’m just going to jump right in:
Over at The Hub, YA Librarian Annie Schutte has a very comprehensive post about the various forms of whitewashing that she has encountered on YA covers, titled “It Matters If You’re Black or White: The Racism of YA Book Covers.” In it, she cites many examples of the misrepresentations of race, cover-tinting, and obscuring of features that sometimes occur when publishers attempt to market books featuring people of color (perhaps under the assumption that Caucasian readers will not be interested if they don't see themselves on everything?). Diana Peterfreund, author of one of the books cited in Schutte’s post, responds to the accusations that her cover has been whitewashed:
And she goes on to say:
“And sometimes, readers just want something to bitch about. I have a friend who hand-picked the Asian-American model on her cover, only to get an email from a (white) reader that the model “wasn’t Asian enough.”
I guess I should fess up here that I was probably one of the main readers bitching about the cover of For Darkness Shows the Stars. And while I’m glad that the author loves how the cover turned out, I still don’t feel like it at all represents the pages inside. When I look at the cover, it makes me think of a space opera featuring soul-searching angst and willowy girlie-girls. I'm not the only one who saw that cover and assumed that her story was "Persuasion in Space", either. Peterfreund even chose to address that assumption on the book’s FAQ page, due to so many readers misinterpreting the stars on the cover. And yes, I do think that the model pictured looks entirely Caucasian; whereas, Peterfreund’s description of her made me think she was Asian or Hispanic. So I guess I have to stand by my bitchery.
Elsewhere in the blogosphere, Foz Meadows talks about the importance of sex positivity in YA novels, for girls in particular – to which I basically want to give a standing ovation.
The Wall Street Journal had a very interesting article last week about pen names and why they’re often used by female authors to disguise gender. According to research cited by the article, “four out of five men said the last novel they had read was written by a man. Women were almost as likely to have read a book by a man as a woman….” This study and others have apparently encouraged publishers and writers to use male pen names – under the assumption that male readers will turn their noses up at any book penned by a female author. So, apparently we’re just going to force female authors to cater to a subset of the reading population? And probably perpetuate the root of this problem in the bargain (ie, the prejudice that some men have against female authors)? Yay.
Over at Stacked, Kelly has some interesting discussion points about the nomination process for the Morris Award, in which only debut novelists are eligible. Should self-published works be considered or not?
And in somewhat related news, Hugh Howey’s Wool series became the latest self-published work to be acquired by a major publishing house (Simon & Schuster).
Lastly, this bit of news is very exciting for my younger self: Caroline Cooney will be publishing the final installment (I didn’t even know there were sequels!!) of the Janie Johnson series next year. Many of you will probably remember The Face on The Milk Carton as required reading in the seventh grade – or if not, then surely you recall the fantastically horrible movie starring Kelly Martin?
That’s all for this week! Stop by and let me know what I missed!