Barnes & Noble Hit With Backlash After Releasing 'Diverse Editions' Of Several Classic Books
Retail booksellers Barnes & Noble recently announced it would be selling new editions of classic novels.
What's the appeal?
The cover art features more diverse characters.
Barnes & Noble Fifth Avenue to launch sales of classic novels with new covers promoting diversity @amNewYork… https://t.co/YMmMNY3QoK— Publishers Weekly (@Publishers Weekly) 1580857208.0
The company's obvious attempt to increase sales by selling the same Eurocentric books with "diverse" covers was largely rejected by people online.
@PublishersWkly @amNewYork https://t.co/rQtMD4NuY8— Nyasha Junior (@Nyasha Junior) 1580864447.0
This...feels like a fail. You put me on the cover to make a buck but I'm not in the pages? Promote INCLUSIVITY inst… https://t.co/uvsmqC792O— Bethany C. Morrow (@Bethany C. Morrow) 1580866219.0
Barnes & Noble was like, well if Netflix can change the thumbnail to show the Black extra in the background of a sh… https://t.co/7muRUudizv— Bethany C. Morrow (@Bethany C. Morrow) 1580869682.0
If Barnes & Noble actually wanted to increase sales by promoting diversity, their path should have been obvious.
They could promote great books by people of color, not slap the picture of a POC on one of the same old books written by dead White people.
After all, sticking the slaves on the cover of Gone With The Wind doesn't mean it should top the reading list for Black History Month.
@BCMorrow @TempestDarling So, they're not retellings by poc and their #OwnVoices? They're just new covers? So inste… https://t.co/w9BjFTEypC— Mercedes Siler is Sad and Busy as Hell (@Mercedes Siler is Sad and Busy as Hell) 1580868623.0
@MercedesSiler @BCMorrow That would be the gist of it.— Tempest Bonds 🌛🌝🌜 (@Tempest Bonds 🌛🌝🌜) 1580868985.0
No, thank you. Promote BIPOC writers. https://t.co/5sbPaLwP6v— Nidhi Chanani (@Nidhi Chanani) 1580867517.0
People on Twitter were outraged.
I haven't had mental time to be mad about this since my editor sent this to me earlier like "this is dumb right? ju… https://t.co/MLsLxIfzne— ConStar, Hufflestunting Into #BlackWizardHistory (@ConStar, Hufflestunting Into #BlackWizardHistory) 1580867564.0
Hire the PoC artists who did these covers to illo books actually coming out in 2020, & sell more books by diverse a… https://t.co/m0Ykt3lHwL— ConStar, Hufflestunting Into #BlackWizardHistory (@ConStar, Hufflestunting Into #BlackWizardHistory) 1580867565.0
Another version of literary blackface....eye... https://t.co/uF1u8uEfv8— LL McKinney (@LL McKinney) 1580867180.0
Many found the gesture outright insulting.
Um. Just... Promote... Diverse... Authors... In... Your... Stores??????????? https://t.co/UBtHbg9F6E— KJ (@KJ) 1580866910.0
Promote diverse authors, and stop perpetuating the idea that these "classics" are necessary and required towards be… https://t.co/TK4pDfMyAr— KJ (@KJ) 1580867387.0
Mary Lennox is a sick, rich 10yo born to COLONIALIST BRITISH PARENTS IN INDIA in a story from 1911. What are you doing?— KJ (@KJ) 1580867643.0
The contents of the story are what matter, not the covers.
This is disgusting. https://t.co/JEDCHGd4zv— KJ (@KJ) 1580868587.0
There is 100% something to be said for a Black Frankenstein story. We spent centuries without autonomy over our own… https://t.co/VZ58I3Cd2w— KJ (@KJ) 1580867879.0
There are countless amazing books by writers of color.
@BNBuzz Y'all...you can't just... Find & Replace race. That's not how this works...— LL McKinney (@LL McKinney) 1580865981.0
Better idea promote: Broken Earth Trilogy Ninefox Gambit Here and Now and Then Binti And Countless other fantastic… https://t.co/kcnPwnJ9jL— Moot The Newt (@Moot The Newt) 1580872331.0
Several writers put their own work forward as an alternative.
@PublishersWkly @amNewYork Hell, if y’all want to “promote diversity” my book will be out in 2021. Let me know wh… https://t.co/2jw7lnA4lY— Frederick Joseph (@Frederick Joseph) 1580868038.0
@PublishersWkly @amNewYork Just gonna drop this right here. https://t.co/x4RNLeeX9c— LL McKinney (@LL McKinney) 1580870140.0
And history also has many diverse writers who would be a better fit for promotions like this one.
All I'm saying is they missed an opportunity here. This is Fifth Avenue. As in NYC. As in ... the Harlem Renaissanc… https://t.co/sx7tkIcEPV— Sammie (@Sammie) 1580870113.0
Some great books featuring POC authors and characters: • Becoming • On the Come Up • The Hate U Give • An Ember in… https://t.co/VzqcWk43IW— BeeCassiopeia (@BeeCassiopeia) 1580871507.0
If only there were some amazing authors of color that @BNBuzz could promote instead of profiting off of the word “d… https://t.co/tBkTqe4r3s— Adam Sockel 📎 (@Adam Sockel 📎) 1580871138.0
If you want to promote diversity in stories, it's not hard to do—highlight the works of diverse authors.