Well, that was some kind of week. Awards and a controversy. Honestly, it was too much for me to take in, much less write about. Plus I didn’t know what to think, and in a way, I still don’t.
Everyone can agree that what Bloomsbury did with the Magic Under Glass cover was a big bowl of wrong. I mean, didn’t we just have this conversation with the same publisher? It’s maddening, if not insulting, for them to ignore the whole issue again. And it’s appropriate that they’ve at least acknowledged the error by changing the cover of the book.
Except, I don’t feel good. I guess I feel a little pleased that bloggers can affect change in the publishing industry, but mostly I don’t feel good.
In fact, I feel bad for the author who poured her heart into her first book, chose to feature a woman of color as the main character, and then found her book in the middle of a fight. And now her book’s release will be delayed as Bloomsbury tries to do the right thing by the cover. It’s not the author’s fault, but she has to suffer the consequences.
I don’t feel good that book bloggers were tossed in the mix of blame for not noticing or reporting on the cover earlier. That argument assumes that (a) lots of bloggers get early copies, (b) the bloggers actually read that book of all the books they get, (c) in reading that book they notice the cover, and (d) they feel like reviewing the book. Book bloggers we’re all on the same team here.
I certainly don’t feel good that this is the only approach we can take to make publishers put diverse characters on the book covers. We have to catch them and make them do the right thing? That’s not a well-working strategy for any of us.
I don’t feel good that we spent the week on this issue even if we had to spend the week on this issue instead of getting to sit back and enjoy the ALA Youth Media Awards. This was their week. But instead of discussions, we got quick lists of winners and then we were back to the controversy.
And in that same vein, I don’t feel good that instead of talking about books that feature people of color from the Coretta Scott King and Pura Belpré awards, we spent the week talking about how we’re not talking about books that feature people of color.
Where does that leave me? Well, in the places where I disagree on methods or strategy with Susan or Doret or Ari, I am grateful for their intensity and vulnerability, which keeps us all aware and energized. I thank Colleen for following the discussion with genuine passion, but also an intelligent focus on the issues rather than the distractions. I thought Leila did a wonderful job of breaking down the discussion and giving a viable course of action to write the publishers directly and express our concerns/dismay/outrage. And I appreciate Liz Burns’s thoughts on accountability that by putting our voices out there as book bloggers, we aren’t just making a list of books we like, but have a greater responsibility to feature diverse books.
In the end, I want to take this week with me the good and the bad feelings of it to make me a better reader, blogger, and advocate. I trust that our fantastic community of bloggers can continue the dialogue, but I also hope that we won’t have to have this exact conversation again. I’m looking at you, Bloomsbury.