Saturday, December 29, 2007

Jackie Collins on the Racial Divide in Publishing

5 Comments:

Blogger moonrat said...

it's really upsetting to me as an editor because (especially with national franchises taking over basically every aspect of life) we become increasingly entrenched in the systems we have--many of which are unfair or, at best, questionable. an example that makes me really cranky: Toni Morrison isn't shelved in "Literature" at Borders chains--she's shelved in a separate "African American Fiction" section on a small free-standing floating island. near her books are books by African American romance writers. meanwhile, WHITE romance authors are shelved differently, in a genre "Romance" section (where they would never rub noses with, say, Faulkner or Woolf). it's really upsetting to me that there is so much lack of parity just in the shelving of books in a bookstore. especially when category assigners are sometimes less than sensitive (Chinua Achebe--he's black, right? oh woops--he's African!! so where does he go?!?! etc).

BNN, meanwhile, doesn't have an African American lit section and just shelves everything together.

the clincher? Borders sells a ton more Morisson (and all African American writers, for that matter) than BNN.

blech. if you come up with a solution for this one let me know.

12/30/2007 6:38 AM  
Blogger Bestselling Author, Pontif. said...

the clincher? Borders sells a ton more Morisson (and all African American writers, for that matter) than BNN.

Thanks for stopping by Moonrat. This is brought up all the time. Does that mean bookstores should lump the books of gay writers into the "Gay & Lesbian" section? All Christian authors should get their books thrown in "Christian Literature"? All Jewish authors in Jewish Lit? Etcetera, etcetera?

What Borders is doing is wrong. The race of the writer should not have anything to do with where their books get shelved, or for that matter, who the target audience is. This should obviously be determined by the books themselves. But as I've said before, I believe it starts with the publisher of the works--not necessarily Borders' fault. By the time it gets to the bookstore, the genre has already been determined by the publisher when the books get cataloged.

12/30/2007 1:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BSA, I concurred.

"By the time it gets to the bookstore, the genre has already been determined by the publisher when the books get cataloged."

We are of course dealing with a long standing, well beloved, institutional racism in this country.As
Moonrat said: "(especially with national franchises taking over basically every aspect of life) we become increasingly entrenched in the systems we have--many of which are unfair or, at best, questionable."

And there are many other racist entanglements that are out there to make it tremendously difficult to receive equal treatment not before the Millenium.

Jackie Collins is a good human being who has love and justice in her heart, very much unlike so many others in this county and the world for that matter... the proof lies in her own statement and action, by refusing to cooperate with a racist demand. Bravo Jackie C.

12/31/2007 2:37 PM  
Blogger Persia Walker said...

I believe it's time for all of us who oppose such blatantly institutionalized racism to direct our comments to the publishers themselves, and to start with Penguin, since Millenia has already shown the courage to stand up to them. What she's fighting for affects all of us, non-black readers and writers alike, both of whom are deprived by what amounts to a virulent system of literary apartheid. Sign petitions, write letters, bring up the matter in call-in radio talk shows. I'm sure Millenia would appreciate the support. Right now, I'd guess that she's feeling very much alone in what is a very real David v Goliath story.

3/31/2008 4:58 PM  
Anonymous black expressions book club said...

Collins is one great and enlightened author. Thanks for people like her in the industry!

7/30/2010 1:23 PM  

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