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Another whitewash of a YA novel character's color
Bella
ellen_datlow
Yes. Bloomsbury has done it again.Jezebel reports on it
here and you can email Bloomsbury here:

Editorial and Marketing office:
175 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10010
Phone: 646-307-5151
Fax: 212-780-0115
bloomsbury.kids@bloomsburyusa.com
children.publicity@bloomsburyusa.com

Below is the letter I just emailed them:

I was very aware of the controversy over Justine Larbalestier Liar last year (for one thing, she’s a friend of mine) and note that Bloomsbury backed off and changed the cover image from a young white woman to a (very light) African American woman. But it seems that your company still hasn’t learned that this kind of racism is no longer going to be ignored by the children’s lit community. You’ve done it again with Jaclyn Dolamore's first novel Magic Under Glass about a dark-skinned young woman from the far east. Please stop assuming that 1) no one (black or white) notices and 2) that we don’t care.
I’ve been in publishing for over thirty five years so you don’t need to inform me about marketing, etc.

With disappointment

Ellen Datlow

Editor

www.datlow.com


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Thank you for their contact information! I first read about this on Reading in Color, a blog run by a teen, specifically for YA books about people of color. It made me so frustrated, I blogged about it myself.

I think now I'll write to Bloomsbury. :)
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I knew that cover had been bugging me. I got an ARC of this book for my Realms of Fantasy column, and I can't tell you how many times I flipped from the inside to the cover, trying to reconcile the discrepancies.

It's really a splendid book, one I enjoyed quite a bit, but man, this irritates me. I've been making a point of seeking out books featuring protagonists of color, like this and Malinda Lo's Ash and Sharon Shinn's Gateway (which hides its Chinese protagonist behind a parasol on the cover!) but if you go by the cover alone, it can be hard to find them sometimes...

Sigh.
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That was me. I didn't realize I'd been logged out of LJ. Sorry!
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I was wondering who it was ;-)
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Yeah, I'm so used to being logged in, that I didn't even notice I was posting as Anon. Go figure. I make a horrible man of mystery.
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this is the letter I sent

To whom it may concern,

I find the cover art for Magic Under Glass to be completely inappropriate, in that it uses a white girl to represent a Far Eastern heroine. It sends a horrible message of (literal) erasure of readers and authors of color.

It also ups the chances of the book being missed by the many readers, teachers and librarians who are actively seeking works that star heroes and heroines beyond the pale.

And if the cover is justified on the grounds of appealing to an audience who wouldn't otherwise pick it up, doesn't that beg the question? Assuming there really are still a significant number of readers who can only tolerate a white heroine (and that they wouldn't be more than replaced by new readers who previously thought fantasy was a white only genre), aren't they going to return the book in droves once they actually start to read it? And resent the bait and switch?

After the Liar debacle I would have thought your company would have learned its lesson about lightening your leading ladies, but maybe this one was already in the pipeline? I hope so, and that later titles will not persist, because in 2010, this is just embarrassing.

I hate to judge a book by its cover, especially when I know how little say an author has in such selections, but there's a limit to the number of chances I will give any brand before I take my time and money someplace more trustworthy.

Sincerely,

[redacted]
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Thanks both of you for following up.
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Email sent. Will send the link to other people who will be at least as offended as I am. It sounds like a cool book.

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ARGH
Not surprised, but... *tears hair out anyway*

Thank you for sending them an awesome letter. I will do something once I can manage more than incoherent rage.
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My best letters are short, quick, and off the cuff. Otherwise I just get caught up in the words and it takes way too long to pull something together.
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Oh for chrissake, again? Thanks for the heads up...
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Same publisher--isn't that effing amazing?
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I've never understood this tactic. Don't they realize that readers will quickly notice the cover has nothing to do with the character within the pages of the book? And that the readers will be irritated (or downright angered) by the discrepancy?
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Just sent them what I posted on my blog. I can't freaking believe they did it again.
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FWIW, I spotted bookshop's original post on the issue just before heading to ALA Midwinter.
I spoke to one of their booth reps (they *do* remember what happened with Liar, though this particular rep didn't realize the protagonist of "MUG" was also non-Caucasian) and she promised to raise the issue up the food chain.
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Excellent. That's the best way to for change to come about really--from within the company/and publishing itself.
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Your post has been included in a Linkspam roundup
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