Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What a whitewash .

Bowing to intense pressure across the internet and from literary enthusiasts, the US publishers of the latest novel by Justine Larbalestier, who writes for young adults, have agreed to change the cover design from a white girl to a black girl, to reflect the race of the central character. Bloomsbury Children's Books had sent out review copies of Liar, featuring a picture of a white girl with long, straight hair, even though in the story the girl, Micah, is African-American with short "nappy" hair.

According to Ms Larbalestier, the "whitewashing" of book covers is a long-standing and industry-wide problem. The use of cover shots of white people, the "ghettoising of books by people of colour, and low expectations (reflected in the lack of marketing push behind the majority of those books) are not new things," she told Publishers Weekly.

...This is bad and is an insult to all book readers. People read books because of the story inside and not the picture on the cover. The book I am reading at the moment has the picture of a padlock on the cover. It is a crime thriller but I would not have been influenced either way if it had pictured a male or female person of any skin pigmentation on the cover. What would have annoyed me big time is if it was a book where the lead character was depicted on the cover who showed no resemblance to the ethnicity of the character in the book. I feel that Bloomsbury had deliberately gone out to mislead the potential book buyer by featuring a white girl on the cover of Liar. For them to think that the book would sell better by showing a white girl on the cover is simply gross. For a reader to choose a book because of the skin colour of the person on the cover is also sad and this works both ways. The same also applies to the alleged gender of the author, I will not buy a book because it appears to have been written by a man or a woman.
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