Books With “Black Girl” Covers Don’t Sell? Discussion

What up my channel? welcome back to another video, I’m Jesse E,, this is Raven claw, and you’re watching… Today’s video is going to be very special I’m going to be unboxing this wonderful promo box for Daughters of Nri sent to me by Onwe Press and also because of the controversy Surrounding the book Daughters of Nri, I’m going to be talking about the issue of whether or not black girls on book covers Sell. Daughters of Nrii is about two twin goddesses It is a Nigerian Fantasy written by a British Nigerian woman about these twins that are separated at birth who find out that they are goddesses I’m gonna get right into the unboxing I obviously have already taken the book out of the box and been reading it and loving it and right after we do the unboxing I will talk about the controversy that has been surrounding this book which comes out in October by the way So I was really pleasantly surprised that Onwe Press agreed to send me another box because they actually already sent this to me but the box kind of exploded and got ruined so I asked them to send me another one and they so kindly did which I really Appreciate because OnwePres is located in Canada and shipping is expensive. So thank you so much for sending me another one This is what you see when you open the box So the first thing I am pulling out is this awesome daughters of NRI bookmark that is signed by Reni and on the back it says “the trick is incredibly simple to know you have power is To have power” and that apparently is a quote from the book next. We have a Nigerian dictionary this is a kind of glossary of the terminology that appears in the book This I really nice because one of my pet peeves when I’m reading a book that doesn’t Center white culture is when the author spends Way too much time kind of explaining all the terminology in the text much prefer to just have a glossary of terms in the back or to do my own research and Google if I need to. so this has translations for all of the African words that are used in the book which I’m super excited to study cuz I’m a huge freaking nerd. then there’s this beautiful Letter from Reni, I also have this gorgeous feather which is going right on my bookshelf. We also have this gorgeous card, which is going to be my new bookmark and on the back It says “love from onwepress. a black female owned independent publishing house.” I love that. Oh, this one is even cooler We got a smaller feather which I excited about then there Is this shirt that says “soul” I am gonna wear the crap out of the shirt you guys! we’ve got some gorgeous vines and y’all know I’m an earth sign I Love decorating my house with vines and plants. So this is going up on my wall as wall and last but not least ….I Love this candle is like brimming to the like all the way to the top full. I love that! It’s called bougie perfume it’s handmade and natural amber black pepper, rosewood Lebadanum and vanilla. I have no idea what Lebadanum is, but this candle *sniffs deeply* smells really freaking good and this is what the art looks like on it …wow these are candles that I would actually buy and I love the packaging for them. And then last but not least we have our gorgeous book! I do want to say that this is one of the most well thought out and well rounded boxes I’ve ever received not only do you get a note from the author and some cute like aesthetic things such as flowers and vines But you also get like the nice dictionary and the the merch and the candle, like It just it makes me so much more excited to keep reading this book and speaking of the book Let’s talk about what’s been going on with daughter’s of Nri reads the author recently got some feedback that the cover for this book was too “loud”. something I find very ironic given that it uses almost exclusively dark imagery but what she did was redesign the cover and it is bigger bolder and more gorgeous and Unapologetically black than ever – seriously. I cannot wait for a finished copy of this book. I cannot wait for this cover! Can you name a prettier cover that’s come out in 2019? because I most certainly cannot and I just love that she refused to back down from Representing like two black girls unapologetically on a book cover, right? I think that is so freakin badass But it does start this conversation about whether or not covers that have black girls on them are sellable to a wider audience Aka a white audience first thing I want to say is that the use of “loud” to describe daughters of Inari is a very strategic and interesting choice of words Especially because black girls have traditionally and presently been described as being loud loud angry obnoxious black girls, right? We’ve all heard black women be described in this way And so the use of loud to describe a cover with black girls is very very intentional to me There was a quote that I read from a black writer many years ago, and I don’t remember it completely but it said something like “the reason that we are loud is because we’ve been silenced for so long” and a lot of times the vibrancy of black girls the vibrancy of black culture gets punished for being loud and the main Undertone of that punishment is that we don’t want blackness to be visible We want it to be easily foldable and forgotten about in a corner We want to keep black folks – black girls and black girl magic – in its place and we expect to have this Reinforced even on books where black faces are the center We expect these books to be black, but not “too black” and so something about this cover having two dark-skinned black girls be the center face of it is “too black” for some people and we’re gonna talk in this video about why that is and whether or not it’s true that This cover wouldn’t sell. Years ago, a book came out called “Liar” And it was a story about a black woman and it was written by a black woman the author whose name is Justine Larbalestier Got into a notorious fight with her publishing house – Bloomsbury – about how when the book was released the cover featured in white girl. and so we had a white girl on a book with a black main character by a black author and Bloomsbury absolutely refused to change the cover They Overrule Justine because authors don’t really get much of a say in their book covers and it became a huge issue eventually Bloomsbury retracted and agreed to put a black girl on the cover of this book but this in and of itself is absolutely not an isolated incident – every single publishing house has been guilty of Whitewashing their book covers and it touches on this idea that blackness isn’t relatable It’s not Universal but white faces and whiteness is relatable and Universal So even if a book is about a black person it’s easier to put a white person on the cover because more people can relate To that image it touches on the societal Expectation that everybody be able to relate and be comfortable with white people We are expected to identify With the experience of whiteness because that is the default experience If someone comes up to you and says “imagine a person walks into the room”, 9 times out of 10 The person that you’re going to imagine is going to be a white person. You’re not Imagining somebody who is a person of color and chances are ,you are not imagining a dark-skinned person. We are taught and trained to see white people and to be uncomfortable if white people aren’t present in our media but what’s interesting about this is that we are not taught the reverse. we are not taught to be uncomfortable if Spaces are only white, if the publishing industry only features books with white people on them, you’re not taught to identify this as something that is troubling and we are most definitely Not taught to call it out and to change that. we are not encouraged to change the status quo Although that without a doubt has been happening especially within the last three years alone I did go to my bookshelf and pull out some books that have unapologetically black girls on the cover and are all books that have had a good amount of hype around them. we have the Queen of the Conquered by Kacen Callendar, War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi, Kingdom of souls by Rena Baron — as I was editing this video, I found out that kingdom of Souls now has a movie deal! Michael B. Jordan picked it up for his production company! So Obviously, it’s selling quite well! house girl by Michael Donkor, Let’s go swimming on doomsday by Natalie C Anderson… This is still one of my favorite covers of 2019 ..and then we have With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo and the Belles And no matter what your political leanings are….You can’t deny that those book covers were all gorgeous! My point is to say that some of the most beautiful covers that had been released within the last few years feature black individuals I was reading an article on the topic of black books and how they sell and I want to share with you this quote: “Editors have told me that their sales departments say black covers don’t sell, Sales reps have told me that many of their accounts won’t take books with black covers, Book sellers have told me they can’t get a give away YA Books with black covers, authors have told me that their books with black covers are frequently not shelved in the same part of the library as other YA – They are exiled to the urban fiction section. And how many bookshops simply don’t stock them at all?” I share that to emphasize that this is absolutely NOT question of whether or not black books sell as well or better than books with white people on the cover, but to emphasize that this is Actually a systemic issue within not only the publishing world, but in the marketing world as well Yeah, it’s easy to say that books with black people don’t sell well If those books are getting pushed to the back of Barnes & Noble, if they’re not being shelved at all if they aren’t being given The same hype and marketing promotion as the white books that that publisher is carrying. Yeah, of course, it’s not going to sell well! If I have a product and I put it on the bottom shelf in the back of my store Chances are that product is not going to be highlighted. It likely will not sell – actually There’s no way it would sell as well as the products that I have Put out front that are frequently being advertised and pushed. so in order to talk about whether or not books with black people on the cover sell well, We first have to equalize the representation and the marketing of these books with white books. that has not yet happened. It’s absolutely changing. Yes, but you can’t say that black books and white books are pushed on the same level within the publishing industry. It’s changing, but we’re just not quite there yet. and so I love when people – People who, mind you, do not work in research, do not know the research surrounding book sales, like to kind of whitesplain and say “oh, well, the reason these books aren’t selling well is because you know, black books don’t sell well” and people will say this even though they themselves have incredibly little knowledge of sales, the publishing industry, and how research actually Works. I say as somebody who is in the sciences, has conducted and published my own research with a cohort – it is easy to create A statistic but statistics in and of themselves are not useful if you do not have context surrounding those stats. We like to utilize science as a way of masquerading our own prejudice and beliefs So one person will say “yeah These books don’t sell” even though books like the Hate You Give were on the best selling list for pretty much an entire year (actually 2 years) So you’ll have usually white people denying that these books are able to be sold at all even as books like the Hate you Give Absolutely smashed the bestseller list! We have the same exact rhetoric going around when the Jackie Robinson movie was trying to get made, people were saying “Oh, well, we WANT to make movies with people, but they won’t sell well” There’s been a wealth of films that center black voices within the last five years and those Films were some of the best selling and highest grossing films of all time! so it is 110 percent a myth that was with black people on the cover will not sell, but it IS true that people who have prejudiced, Preconceived notions, about the sellability of books with black people on the covers are the exact people that would not buy those books themselves! Absolutely Nobody can talk about the sellability of books with black folks on the cover until we equal the playing field in the publishing industry Even books that have white people on the covers will not sell well If they aren’t given the proper marketing and promotional material – nothing will sell well Without that product actually being marketed I Personally, as somebody who is black, who has enjoyed seeing all of the push of these black Fantasies that are coming out and other blackcentric narratives coming out. I personally believe that these books are selling well, that who are interested both black and non black people are interested in them alike and want to Spotlight and celebrate them. I think that that actually is happening. honestly That playing field is never going to be equal if we don’t actually put our money where our mouth is and prove all of these Bigots wrong as I demonstrated earlier from that quote. It’s not just about how these books are selling It’s about where they get placed, and if publishers are even willing to hire black authors and buy books by black authors in the first place! And the last thing that I will say is that we have this subtle expectation that these books – if they do get to exist- need to be Digestible and easily understood by white people and I think that that is absolutely the wrong way to go about it. You should be able to kind of have a book with two Unapologetically black girls on the cover and not have that cover be criticized as being ‘too loud’. the only way that we are going to grow as a Society is if we learn that people don’t need to fit themselves into a mold whiteness, that whiteness is not the default, It’s not the standard and it’s fucking totally okay to have dark skin in a big afro and wear lots of jewelry. That is totally fine! It’s okay to not look that way, but this expectation that all of our experiences need to be easily Digestible to the majority is troubling because at the end of the day black people are not defined by their relationship to white folks. black People are defined by their own history, their own heritage, their own beliefs and cultures, which are spread out across a huge diaspora. this is one of under five times that I’ve ever seen a girl this dark on a fantasy book cover and the absolute only time I have ever seen it grew up with a Big-ass afro on the cover of a fantasy book. That is something that we need to be celebrating – not saying it’s too loud So this book comes out in October. Buy it buy it buy it buy it support these authors, support these books, because that is the only way that it is going to change and if you find yourself at a Barnes & Noble or at your Independent bookseller and you notice that the black books are getting put in the urban section, If you notice they that they are on tables in the back instead of being up on the front with all the other books… Bring it up to the manager. Say something! This is the only way that we’re going to change, write a letter, send an email do what You gotta do. leave an anonymous note. It doesn’t matter. But if we’re not willing to comment on these things they will never change. That’s what true Allyship is. true Ally ship isn’t just accepting and appreciating that these books exist. it means that you are speaking up for these books! and actively doing the work to support them and support can be a Number of ways. make sure that your library stocks these books, make sure that you are sharing these books – HI, editing Jesse here I forgot to add my word of the day So if you made it this far in the video comment down below with the word “loud” That’s gonna do it for this video. If you liked this video, please give it a big thumbs up and subscribe to my channel I would love it If you became a part of my dapper family Feel free to hit that notification bell so that you never miss any contact from bowties and books and if you’d like more daily concen For me follow me on my Instagram bowties and books because I basically live and pay rent to Instagram at this point So until next time stay sharp, and I will see you in my next video

92 comments on “Books With “Black Girl” Covers Don’t Sell? Discussion

  1. i LOVE this video and i love how you came from an analytical perspective, especially when discussing sales numbers and readership.


    and i agree that we need to hold bookstores accountable and recognize the intentional placements of books.

    great video, overall! 🖤

  2. Daughters of NRI looks a gorgeous cover it still shocks me that people have these mentality … Its just craziness ❤️ Brilliant discussion as always… Such an important topic ❤️ *Also LOUD 😉❤️

  3. I feel like because of this it’s easy for ppl to ignore that the characters they are reading about are black. Like even when a character is described as black in a story ppl will often still view them as white. There is this one Etsy shop I refuse to buy from because her bookmarks for children of blood and bone literally changed all the characters to light skin or white (not sure) and she also change Jesper from SOC skin color to light skin/white as well. Anyways I’m looking forward to reading Daughters of Nri! You should see “children of virtue and vengeance” Zelie has an Afro on the cover and I’m so happy about it!

    I always enjoy your videos! Loud!

  4. Yep, that cover sure is loud. Loudly gorgeous! Everyone deserves to see themselves on the cover of books, in the toys they play with, in the games they play, in the movies they watch. It’s pathetic that it’s taking so long but I am glad things are (slowly) moving in a positive direction.

  5. This topic reminds me of when singers had to put white people on the Album covers to make buyers believe that the singer/singers were white. The more things change the more they stay the Same! (In America).

  6. This cover is everything! Great discussion video and I can not wait to receive my copy on release date!
    I'm myself writing a book with a girl of color and the situation is even worse in France (where I live) which is why I'm seriously considering self-publishing.

  7. Intriguing commentary and this cover bias and racism sadly doesn't surprise me. But that the cover is gorgeous, ethereal and exudes subtle power and after you said Nigerian sister goddesses, I immediately put this on my TBR. I love reading about mythology's from different cultures and the story sounds so interesting! Can't wait to buy and read the book 😀 Loud!

  8. 1. I love your mini twists.
    2. Seriously it's just a dope beautiful cover if I can buy a book with a White girl on the cover and there has never been an invisible barrier preventing me from getting it then I don't understand why other people can't get it to 🙃.
    3. LOOOUUUDDD!!!!!

  9. It's so strange the words people use when they want to hide their bigoted thoughts. Loud? That doesn't even make sense as an insult when it comes to book covers and their goal of catching people's attention. It's loud and so beautiful. Great discussion video!

  10. Daughters of Nri and Queen of the Conquered are two of my favorite covers! When I first saw the cover of Daughters of Nri on Merphy's channel, I was like "that cover is gorgeous!" Whoever did those covers did an amazing job. I'd definitely buy them, even if it was just for the covers. Also, you're so right about how a lot of times we think of white as the default. If I'm reading a book and I haven't got to the character's descriptions yet, I'll automatically assume the character is white, unless it's obvious from the cover that they're not. I would love to see more covers like Daughters of Nri or Queen of the Conquered.

  11. Mic Drop! You nailed it. I work at a bookstore in a predominately white area and I have to say that books with black people on the cover are displayed pretty predominantly most of the time. Sometimes though they get pushed to bottom back. I was surprised about how prominently displayed these books were because the bookstore I worked at in a predominantly black area definitely pushed black books to the back bottom and I would even hear 'Oh it's not going to sell.' Well, damn ya'll.

    Anyway, I love this cover and the book sounds pretty amazing.

  12. For me personally as a fantasy reader and a white cis male I actually get excited when I see fantasy books specifically that feature main characters that don’t look like me. The White European fantasy’s are so inundated in the market and the setting and magic and monsters are mostly the same. When I see a cover with a main character that is based on different lore or feature myths from non white cultures I know I am in for something new and exciting.

  13. There is an afro-german (with Sierra Leonean background) author who will release a fantasy book next year. On her cover is a black woman, too. Her name is Hawa Mansaray

  14. Wow i didnt know a book with literally 2 colors as the scheme can be so LOUD. I guess loud is what we're calling it today. If it's so unmarketable then why did i buy Kingdom of Souls solely because of witch doctors and a beautiful black girl on the cover???

    You are a master of words and discussions and i love watching these videos! 💚

  15. I heard you LOUD and clear 🙂 Whether a book makes it has a lot to do with how much the publisher's marketing team pushes it.

  16. It’s the fucking BEST cover. I ADORED this.
    HOW are white people more default. It’s RIDICULOUS. It’s uncomfortable!

    I thank Booktube EVERYDAY for teaching me to be uncomfortable ❤️❤️❤️

  17. Loud LOUD loud 🙂

    That is a good discussion video and it def. made me think about the book industry and everything else you've mentioned. I'm from and live in Southeast Europe therefore my history context, situation and surroundings are much more different, but I have to say that I really do not care who's on the cover, as long as I like the synopsis and the bookcover itself I would most probably buy it. I did exactly that with "Children of Blood and Bone", we've taken the original cover. Tho, I try to get better at that. 😀

  18. "too loud" um WHERE? 1. like you said, the colors are deep, dark, and calm and 2. who said loud was bad anyway? That cover is stunning and the synopsis of the content inside is even more so; I know I'm gonna love Daughters of Nri! Hope it joins THUG (which was on its second year I think on the list!) as a bestseller and hope there's many more after them, and I can't WAIT to add my financial and vocal support to it.

    L O U D and proud, lovely <3

  19. Amazing discussion!! It's ironic when bigots say minorities are loud when they themselves are the ones trying to be louder than everyone else. Anyway, I can't wait to read this book and display it on my self ✨

  20. Say it LOUDer for those at the back that didn't get it! That cover is STUNNING, why are you the first person I've come across on BT talking about it…? TFS 🙂

  21. I personally hate covers that depict characters in general because I prefer to imagine them! But I can 100% imagine that books with a black girl on the cover would sell less than like a control group or whatever, and that's a pretty damning indictment on society right there. I always think with stuff like this that it shows how far we have to go, hopefully one day we'll live in a society where we don't even need to worry about things like these. Until then, it's an important discussion to have!

    EDIT: This also reminds me a little bit of a writer friend of mine who's British Asian but who uses a pseudonym with initials and then a fairly generic surname. I think the logic is that if he wrote about being a British Asian, using his real name might be a benefit. But he's not, he's just writing horror because horror is what he wants to write, and it's just easier/more convenient to use a pseudonym and he could potentially get more sales with the pseudonym than his real name. Although also, he is a horror author and so a certain level of separation from the work is probably also handy at, say, job interviews ;D

  22. Daughters of Nri has a gorgeous cover and the premise sounds really interesting. I will be buying a copy (and do my darnedest to request copies at my local library).

    Also, LOUD

  23. Hello! I M a french woman and I have to buy most of the time books in english in order to read about caracters Who looks more like me in sci-fi and fantasy. Very few of this novels are translated . This cover for Daughters of NRI is so beautiful and Loud! Thanks to speak about it! 😃

  24. I moved The Belles from the bottom of a shelf to a front and center table. I came back 2 weeks later and they were still on the front facing table.

  25. This makes me cry. I really love this cover. Is indeed one of the most beautiful covers of this year. Why are people so prejudiced?

  26. I was planning on reading it because the cover was so beautiful. It sucks that black led covers are not selling well. This is not 100% related but maybe some of it is like how I dont always connect with black lead movies. That's not because I dont like them I just haven't shared that experience. At least in drama. Comedy works across all levels I think. I liked your video and i hope people buy this book.

  27. Love your outfit. Love this video. It's awful that there still needs to be a discussion about this. It already needs to be normal that covers with colored people on the cover get as much attention as other books. The thing you said about white being the default feels so strange to me (not you saying it but that the default is there). There are probably way more people with a colored skin either black or brown etc then there are white people. Thank you for this video, I'm being more and more aware of the rascism in this time.

  28. I agree that I rather have a glossary in the back. The cover is breathtaking. I like the feathers. I’m a earth sign too. ♑️ in the hizzouse!
    That’s a great box.

    ✨ *LOUD*✨? Where? Oh we all know why. 😴😒😏🤨
    It was very intentional.
    Sounds like jealousy and insecurity.

    😮. I never knew about the Liar book. I have noticed some white washing in the past.
    I hate that the default is assumed to be white.
    I am excited about the unapologetic black girls and boys.
    Lies thy tell! In my Tamar voice
    Black books can and will sell they just don’t want to put forth the effort to market them correctly while pushing literal mediocrity.
    Times are changing but not fast enough.
    Yes we should speak up. I’m about to request my local library to add all these books.

  29. Jesse coming through with an amazing discussion, as per usual.

    the fact that publishing along with other entertainment media are okay with white washing… I still can’t get over that. it blows my mind that there are book shops that don’t stock books with Black people on covers.

    these stories and faces need to be out there. it’s so important for these voices to be heard and pushed out into the world!

    and honestly, the SECOND I saw that book cover on twitter, I added it to my Goodreads BECAUSE of that cover. I didn’t even know the synopsis until later on.

    thank you again for this discussion, Jesse 💕

    LOUD! ✨

  30. I love this discussion, I love you and I love books with black people on the cover! My all-time favourite cover is Let's Talk About Love by Claire Kann. Daughters of NRI is a stunning cover and I'm gonna make sure my library orders it so everyone can bask in its glory.

  31. Great discussion! This just proves we still have a long way to go with the bigotry surrounding the publishing industry but I’m glad we are getting better each year! LOUD 🔥

  32. Your words just grab me immediately, it took me like five minutes to notice that fly bowtie! It's so cool! I didn't know there had been controversy surrounding the book. I'm so glad Amayo took it and made it even better.
    Let me have all those books you held up, heck yes those covers are gorgeous! The industry kinda needs to get over themselves and do some marketing for these books.

  33. I can’t even deal with someone saying “too loud” about the book cover. I think my eyes popped out of my head from rolling them too hard. Also, I was SO hyped for Kingdom of Souls and I literally had to go to THREE bookstores before I found it in an local indie bookstore rather than Barnes and Noble. I even went to two Target, where is said it was online that 3 copies were on the shelf, and none of the employees could find the books. It was absolutely ridiculous. I loved this discussion, thank you for speaking about this 🖤

  34. To me that cover instantly speaks of two people taking back something, whether that be agency, power or something else. It catches my eye and I want to know who these women are looking at. And the backlit image imbues them with a sort of feeling of threat and mysticism. These are not people you want as your enemies. And I like that! I had not previously heard of this book, but you bet it is going on my tbr right now.

  35. I am definitely gonna be reading Daughters of NRI, and I hope it gets the sales numbers to shut up the bigots and haters. Let's let the good folks be LOUD this time!

  36. Great discussion! Also love the subtle gold eyeliner and jewelry to match the cover.

    I think it is changing somewhat, at least I've seen more displays in bookstores that will say "diverse reads" or "books by X authors" but while that's a step in the right direction these books also need to be promoted in the same ways that books by white authors are. I think having diverse displays is great but it does STILL isolate these books and relegate them to something of an "other" status. I would like to see books by authors of color mixed into the sort of "regular" displays that you would see in endcaps at places like Barnes & Noble, Chapters, etc. in ADDITION to those sorts of diverse displays.

  37. Thank you for this discussion and highlighting this book! I found the publisher's website and pre-ordered it:

  38. LOUD:
    First thing's first, I love that cover. It needs to be framed and hung up in my home.
    I want to read Queen Of The Conquered so much off that cover, plus I've heard great things about Hurricane Girl.
    @[email protected], I'm happy that it got picked up, but I'm apprehensive about it since he produced Raising Deon and changed the mother from a dark skinned woman in the original trailer from years ago, to a light skinned woman in the Netflix production. Maybe the light skinned woman they cast was the best person to fit the role from the auditions, but the role would have better suited a black actress similar to the woman in the original trailer.
    This was a wonderful discussion. It's ridiculous that this actually still has to be challenged after the success of Black Panther. Black people are relatable. Black culture is mainstreamed and emulated. But racism and anti-blackness is the reason.

  39. This is really insightful and a good reminder of how important it is for white people to also call BS on publishers and bookstores and use their positions to make sure books get the foot traffic and eyes they need to make money! Thanks for sharing your wisdom and for calling on all of us to be "loud" about this issue.

  40. Also THANK YOU for mentioning the systematic faults in the publishing industry. This is a lot of where the issue lies. But when they do get on the shelves and such, they DO sell well! They need the same exposure.

  41. LOUD

    God it makes me so angry when people complain about minority-led media “not selling” when they simply aren’t being marketed as well as white, straight, cis books.
    My mom and I have taken it upon ourselves to become vigilantes and if we see POC and LGBT+ books in the back/separate from white straight books, we will take it up with someone on staff.
    Great discussion video! 😃

  42. By the way, “Loud!” 🖖👏 I’ve tagged you on Instagram as well, under an earlier post of mine. It will be interesting to see if I get any feedback about the cover when I release the book 🤔

  43. You did such an amazing job of explaining how systemic this issue is. It's not about readers, it's about what people in power decide to show and market to readers, so we don't even get a chance to see what sells or doesn't sell because there's no equal opportunity. Also omg "LOUD" the most obvious coded language, so glad that publisher pushed back and supported dark-skinned girls on a book cover.

  44. Excellent discussion, especially about the importance of marketing books for them to have a chance of success. LOUD is awesome, that's for sure!

  45. LOUD
    I am not even a big fan of boxes and can tell that one was a good one!
    WOW that Liar example, my goodness
    on top of all of the examples you gave, Children of Virtue and Vengeance is about to take the world by storm, with the movie deal for the first book and excitement for that one. And that cover is STUNNING.
    You gave a great a discussion and it also really reminded me of the current discussion/controversy of illustrated romance/contemporary books- have you seen that? When someone pointed it out I had a 'woah' moment. It's about how we are suddenly beginning to get romance/contemporary mainstream books that are by authors of color and feature characters of color… and now the trend is to do illustrated covers- you know, the kind where sometimes distinct facial features aren't clear? That aren't as…. obvious as a real person on the cover. Honestly, it looks like the publishing world is more comfortable with doing illustrated covers for these books that have poc than having photos/photorealistic pictures of them (which before the trend was the norm) so they can be more digestable.
    Anywho, didn't mean to go on a whole essay but I really did enjoy this discussion

  46. Loud! Whiteness is not the default. Exactly. A book event I attended with Elizabeth Acevedo she discussed how she doesn’t feel the need to explain everything. If you don’t understand something while reading, google it. It shifts the responsibility. I actually hadn’t even heard of this book, and now I will be adding to my reading list. Whitewashing book covers happens at so many levels. That quote you shared triggered me. Growing up I HATED having to go to the “urban book” section for books as if being casted aside. It was low key embarrassing. Things have gotten better but not fast enough leh sigh. Idk I just felt compelled to comment because this is an important discussion. Ending on a positive note, that the box was so thoughtful, the cover is gorgeous, you are amazing and the war girls cover had me gagging 🙃

  47. Great points Jesse. I'm not a big fan of portraits on covers in general, but as a reader what pisses me off most is when a cover doesn't accurately represent the content. Putting white girls on the cover 'just because' is not only whitewashing but also just stupid. When readers realize the cover is false they'll be pissed, at least, i am, and that's not good publicity (am i the only one who thinks like this?). I don't think someone is going to pick it up ONLY because it's got a white girl on it if they wouldn't have otherwise, and that excuse by the publishing industry is some load of BS. Criticizing that cover as loud doesn't make sense to me, it's beautiful and vibrant but i would not use 'loud' as the one word descriptor. But also, isn't ever book trying to make itself stand out and be noticed on the bookshelves, isn't that the point of the cover?

  48. I was nervous that the urge to buy this book was gonna overpower my "I'm too hipster to buy newly released traditional books" brand but it's an independent press, so LOOPHOLE.

  49. YES YES YES TO EVERYTHING THAT YOU SAID! I loved the discussion and all your points were so valid. I am so proud of this gradual shift of black readers, authors and other book lovers speaking up and being unapologetic about wanting to see themselves in the book industry. These conversations are so important. ❤️❤️❤️ I cant wait for Daughters of Nri to come out

  50. Such a good discussion!!! This is also a problem with romance novels so I feel like for reviewers, normalizing all different kinds of people reading books with black protagonists is really important.

  51. Those covers are gorgeous & I would buy them based on that alone. Has to be top 10 covers of 2019.
    Wonderful discussion. You are so eloquent & well spoken.

    Not the point of the video but: WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH HAS A BOOK DEAL!? I NEED IT. (I understand your criticism about pretty Leslie but as a young (not teen) Boricua momma, I felt super connected to it.

  52. That's crazy that someone actually described this book cover as "loud", why would such a comment even need to be made? It's like sure, use a black woman stereotype, but yes, we want it to be loud. We're proud to be black and we're gonna let you hear it.

    With Justine Larbalestier, I'm pretty sure she's not black, unless she is just very white passing, but I did like that she stood up for the lack of accurate representation for her cover. And yess, I hate that there is this need to make poc digestible for white people as if we have to cater to them and not write our own authentic stories.

  53. That's crazy that someone actually described this book cover as "loud", why would such a comment even need to be made? It's like sure, use a black woman stereotype, but yes, we want it to be loud. We're proud to be black and we're gonna let you hear it.

    With Justine Larbalestier, I'm pretty sure she's not black, unless she is just very white passing, but I did like that she stood up for the lack of accurate representation for her cover. And yess, I hate that there is this need to make poc digestible for white people as if we have to cater to them and not write our own authentic stories.

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