Saturday, January 16, 2010

Really Bloomsbury? I'm Done. The Publishing World Needs to Take Note

Huge thanks to Ah Yuan for blogging about this issue and bringing it to my attention. Read her post here She first heard about the controversy here concerning the cover of Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore.

I'm not going to go into a summary of this book. It sounded decent but I probably wouldn't have read it. I would have read it however if I had known the main character, Nimira was dark-skinned I would have read it since I review YA books about poc. But wait! Look at the cover. Hmmm does the model look dark skinned to you? I think not. And you know what? This cover is really pretty, I like it a lot. The dress/corset of the model, the glass, it's very elegant and it screams historical fantasy (to me, which I love). If it had had a dark skinned model on the cover I would have been so excited that I would just picked it up right away! I'm so disappointed, I'm beyond furious, I can't even type. You know why this especially angers me?

1)The publisher of this book is Bloomsbury. You may be thinking that name sounds familiar? Ah yes, they are the publisher of Liar by Justine Larbalestier. Remember they put a white girl on the US cover when the book was about a Black girl? Justine blogged about it here and I blogged about it here After enough people grew outraged (and it really helped that Justine is so cool and was so against her US cover), Bloomsbury bowed to public demands and changed their cover. And Liar is a great book that deserved a great cover, read my review

2) WHERE IS ALL THE OUTRAGE?? I've read at least 3-4 book reviews of this book and none of these reviews said anything. Except Laura at Bib-Laura-graphy Bravo Laura! (Other bloggers may have as well, I just found Laura's blog when I Googled Magic Under Glass cover controversy, if you have blogged about it, let me know and bravo to you!). I'm disappointed that my fellow teen book bloggers didn't say anything about the cover. As I recall, not many said anything about the cover of Liar either.

Please understand, this is in no way an attack on the author. For all I know, Ms. Dolamore could have said something to Bloomsbury about the cover and expressed her dissatisfaction. And I don't want to hurt her/her book, but I personally, can not buy this book while it has this cover. I'll still read it and review it, but I won't support a publishing company that has once again put a white model on the cover when the main character is described as dark-skinned.

I'm done with Bloomsbury USA. I'll get one of their books from the library, but I will NOT buy a book from them. Or any other publishing house that does this. Join me.

So what can we do? I'll be updating this post constantly once I've calmed down and can I really think. For now, I would say:

1) BLOG about it
2) Email the Bloomsbury Kids staff (I don't know who to specifically email so I would just go with the general email address)
3) If you're going to ALA Midwinter, stop by Bloomsbury's booth and POLITELY give them a piece of your mind.
4) Go out and buy a book about a poc. Or if you really can't afford to do that, go to your library and get books about poc. If they don't have any, talk to the librarians.

Also, Zetta makes a good point in the comments. She left me a link to the author's sketches of her characters from Magic Under Glass. Nimira doesn't look dark-skinned in her sketches either, seems to me the author does have a different view of dark-skinned than I or perhaps she didn't add any color to the faces of her characters because she wanted the reader to be able to imagine them as whatever color they wished?
ETA: Bad statement, I apologize. The book trailer clears this up.

Leave me a comment with your thoughts and what you think we should do. Enough is enough. If you haven't yet, you MUST read this post by Colleen at Chasing Ray about Demanding Diversity in Publishing. Right before Martin Luther King Jr. Day too, it's a shame and this is definitely NOT his dream.

The Responses (this will be a list of all the blog links I find/are left here in the comments ). Please visit the posts and leave comments encouraging the bloggers for speaking out.

1. Bookish Blather: Racefail on Magic Under Glass. Excellent post and I'm so glad Angela will be joining in and helping to make some noise when the publishing industry changes skin color for a cover. "So while I hold Bloomsbury highly accountable for this cover, I also have to say that the blogosphere seems to have fallen down on the job a little bit as well. We can take a stand and start making noise now so that racefail like this becomes rare, rather than an all too common occurrence." Agreed!

2. Black-Eyed Susan's: No Magic for Bloomsbury:Whitewashing, Business as Usual-Great post that really expresses how angry I feel in a way that makes more sense than whatever I say :) "Clearly Bloomsbury doesn't take us too seriously. Obviously they think teen bloggers are too shallow and fickle to call them out. I am sick of the excuses and head plunking in the sand. Teens, particularly you teen girls, stop taking the disrespect. Stop allowing the publishing industry to treat you like silly little girls who gush and fantasize over one model of beauty. You have no problem telling adults otherwise when they are wrong in what they think about you so why do you accept them selling you a stick figure with perfect skin, gorgeous hair and white skin? Whitewashing is racist. It says no one is interested in any character other than the white standard. It says we do not value diversity. It says POC at best can be a sidekick. POC can earn the publisher money but we cannot represent them.Yes, stop allowing the disrespect because poc can represent! Show publishers that you will buy books about poc!

3) Book Covers that Lie, Yet Again: I will definitely be trying harder to pay attention to the book covers of the books I read this year. I said I would in the original post about “Liar”, but I know I haven’t been doing as much as I should have been. It’s easy to put up a blog post commenting on how you don’t like something or wish something was different. But actually doing something about it takes effort. I promise to try harder this year. If something isn’t right I’m going to say something about it. After I post this I’m going to email Bloomsbury and let them know that I’m bothered by the cover. Hooray for Jen!

4. Good Books & Good Wine's Cover Controversy?! -I wonder if the message sent is oh, a book featuring a dark-skinned character would never sell, because white people don't want to buy books with dark people on the cover. Therefore, we don't value non-white people as much as white people. Personally, I think that's stupid. I think we need to wake up and smell the coffee and realize it's 2010, characters come in all different shapes, colors and sizes. Diversity is definitely not a bad thing, and one's reading life can be so enriched with diversity! I know I'm not being very eloquent right now, but damn if I'm not angry that Bloomsbury seems to think I wouldn't buy a book with a girl on the cover who is a different color from me. That's messed up. Why would they assume white people don't care to read about people of color? Do they honestly think I don't read to learn about people with different life experiences with me?Or that I only want to read about people who are the exact same as me? Fuck that noise. I want diversity in my life- Amazing April!

6. Abby the Librarian's More whitewashing, Just in time for MLK Day And while I agree with all that and Bloomsbury really should have learned their lesson, I can't help but think that this is still all a symptom. Why is Bloomsbury publishing this book with this cover? Because they think it will sell more copies.

We vote every day with our credit cards and we need to be the change we want to see. And while I agree with all that and Bloomsbury really should have learned their lesson, I can't help but think that this is still all a symptom. Why is Bloomsbury publishing this book with this cover? Because they think it will sell more copies. We vote every day with our credit cards and we need to be the change we want to see.
I'm not suggesting that we boycott a particular publisher or author. I hate that this controversy might adversely affect the sales of a debut author, especially since I know that oftentimes authors have little-to-no say about their covers. What I'm trying to say is that if we, as a community of readers, PURCHASE BOOKS by and about people of color, that is a surefire way to get publishers to publish books by and about people of color. We vote with our credit cards. I'm not urging you to vote against any particular titles, publishers, or book covers. I'm simply urging you to vote for books that feature people of color if you are, in fact, as outraged by this cover controversy as you claim to be

Love it Abby!

7. Bookshop's New Year's Resolution #7: Stop Buying YA from Bloomsbury: Having spent too much money last year on less-than-stellar YA debuts, I resolved for 2010 to buy fewer debuts unless I had reason to be really excited about them. The first exception to the rule was Jaclyn Dolamore's Magic Under Glass. I have been looking forward to reading this book for months.

This week I picked up my copy. And I learned that the heroine of the novel was from the Far East, had dark skin, and looked nothing at all like the white model on the cover of the book I bought.

My much-anticipated first YA reading experience of 2010 has been ruined by a disgusting example of Racefail from a publisher that really, really should have learned its lesson when this happened last summer. The people who were outraged over Liar were not minor inconveniences at whom you could wave a new cover until we went away. We learned the lesson of Liar, it seems, far better than you did.

This is the last book I will be buying from Bloomsbury Kids. As a publisher you have now proven to me that you do not respect the characters or the cultures I most want to read about. Bloomsbury does not deserve my money.

I will also strongly encourage the many YA fans and up-and-coming writers in my community not to submit their books to Bloomsbury. Instead I will encourage them to submit their novels to a publisher who wants more chromatic characters on their debut covers, not one who wants to erase the precious few we already have.
A letter to Bloomsbury from Aja, one of the original bloggers to blog about this. Aja you rock my socks and thanks for posting about this and sharing your email!

8. Charlotte's Library Cover of Magic Under Glass: I remember thinking how glad I was that at least they had not made Nimira into an overly romanticised example of the "exotic other" (which was something that Dolamore managed to avoid in her book, but which I was a bit nervous about).

I wish I had mentioned this in
my comments about the book. I do not think this is as catastrophic a race fail as the cover of Liar, but I am sorry that Bloomsbury didn't take advantage of the opportunity provided by the story to show a beautiful girl who actually is "dark." And I'm sorry I failed to raise the issue in my review, and with my silence indicated acceptance of this white-washing. Visit Charlotte's post to see a list of all the pages where Nimira is described as dark-skinned. Thanks for this post :)

9. Book Gazing: Bloomsbury-Any chance you can get smarter? It all comes back to the vicious cycle surrounding diversity. People who don’t like ‘gritty’ books won’t start buying more books with black characters on the cover until they see a more diverse field of books being published with black characters on the cover. Even if they’re out there (and they are) the majority of people don’t believe there are light hearted books featuring black characters and that’s something the publishing industry has to take responsibility for, as they’ve reinforced the image of black writing as gritty, hard hitting and harrowing (not bad things to be called, but they’re now preventing a whole market of readers who like lighter books from buying anything even remotely related to race (see Susan’s post for a better idea of this kind of thing). Publishers won’t start publishing more of these kind of books with black characters on the cover until people start buying the current books with black characters on the front and until they see the money they’re not likely to take a risk because this is capitalism my friends with all its flaws and joys. No one is taking a risk until they see the cash. Brillant post Jodie!

10. Storywings: My Two Cents: Magic Under Glass
One - we're living in the 21st Century for Christ sake, who the hell do Bloomsbury think they are?
Two - this poor author is going to get slammed and boycotted because of Bloomsbury, it isnt her fault yet its going to be her name that gets dragged through the mud.
Three - the sheer inaccuracy of the cover is just wrong.
Four - the fact that Bloomsbury obviously thought that they would get more sales with a white girl than a black one which is absolutely disgusting.

I live in a country so diverse that I've grown up not even seeing colour, every one is just a person so this is something that is very hard for me to understand. Bloomsbury, I lost a lot of respect for you today. If I ever get published, I don't care if you're my last option, I am not going to go near you. Thank you for your two cents Wings, it helps!
11. Justine Larbalestier, Race and Representation: I have one thing to say:

This is not about the accuracy of covers on books.

It’s not about blonde when the character is brunette, it’s not about the wrong length hair, or the wrong colour dress, it’s not even about thin for fat. Yes, that is another damaging representation, but that is another conversation, which only serves to derail this conversation.

The one about race and representation.

Sticking a white girl on the cover of a book about a brown girl is not merely inaccurate, it is part of a long history of marginalisaton and misrepresentation. Publisher don’t randomly pick white models. It happens within a context of racism. And that's what it's all about =)

12. Colleen at Chasing Ray, What's Going On: Some people truly just don't get it and trying to force them to get it is an issue that is going to get us way off track.

16. I understand Susan's desire to boycott Bloomsbury and her collective frustration. I really do. What concerns me is that there are authors at Bloomsbury who have beans to do with this, authors who have written books about dolphins or bugs or whatever and race has never been an issue for their books. So is it fair to affect them? I don't think so.

17. Having said that, I am sick and tired of books about kids with color that have a Caucasian on the cover. Why does this matter? Because you are saying that they are not good enough to be on the cover. You are saying you have to hide the dark skinned protagonist behind a light skinned one. You are saying that dark skin is something to be ashamed of.

18. Yes, you are saying all of that. Seriously, read all her points. Spot On!

13. Eva at a Striped Armchair: Reading in Color (RiC note: not about me! haha) : Yep, I had to try harder, especially at the beginning. I had to be more conscious of the books I was choosing to read (although now it’s become a habit). And I definitely didn’t love every POC book I read. But then, I don’t love every white author I try either. And here’s the thing…after several months of changing my reading, I’ve barely scratched the surface of all of the wonderful POC literature out there.

In fact, I fully intend to read this way for the rest of my life. And yes, I do plan to keep track, and to hold myself to that firm ratio. At least, until it becomes second nature (a few years ago, I did the same thing when I noticed I had read almost all male authors that year…now, at least half the books I read are by women, and I don’t have to pay attention to it). I’m willing to sacrifice a little of my reading spontaneity and whims (although really, not that much) in order to make sure that I’m aware of more viewpoints. It’s important to me in principle, and just as importantly, it has improved my reading tremendously! It’s funny what being aware of something does though…because in the last few months, the white washing of the publishing industry seems so much more obvious. Oh, and the white washing of the book blogosphere. Thank you Eva for being so honest and right on!

14. School for Activists: Whitewashing in the Publishing Industry: A response to Bloomsbury Fail It's not enough to call for black kids to be on the covers of kids books. We need to call for more books about kids of color that are not just about oppression. We need to call for fantasy/mystery/scifi/romance/genre fiction about kids of color who get to have some fun. We need to call for major mainstream publishing houses to start publishing such books. And we can't let them get away with sticking the lightest-skinned "ethnic-looking" person they can find on the cover when we make a fuss. I mean, come on, the girl on the new cover of Liar? She could be black, sure. But it's not super immediately clear is it? You're not wrong if you think that this was done on purpose.

It is RARE that I see dark-skinned unambiguously Not White kids of color portrayed anywhere in kids books (Kadir Nelson is an awesome exception to this) -- from the covers of YA books to the illustrations in picture books, most kids of color are depicted as extremely light skinned. Most black kids (especially the girls) are also depicted with straight hair. Not that light-skinned straight haired people of color shouldn't be depicted anywhere, but the huge preponderance of them in kiddie/YA literature about kids of color is motivated by racism. Publishers MUST be called out on this, and not just by a few kids buyers sitting down with their rep and saying so. Buyers need to refuse to buy any frontlist titles from Bloomsbury at all this season. Those of us who see a problem must unambiguously say so

Whoo hoo thank you for speaking out DontBoxSarah, this post is great! And from an interesting perspective of a book buyer for a bookstore who will boycott.

15. Multiculturalism Rocks! I Have A Dream: Feeding from Martin Luther King, Jr. words and vision, I dream that one day our actions will match our words; that one day when we tell our children that we do not believe in discrimination or in double standards, they will also witness it through the books that we read together; that one day reality will exceed the dream: we will gather not to denounce a cliché, a book cover misrepresentation or a ban on gay, multicultural or children books dealing with edgy issues, but that we will gather to celebrate joy, respect and diversity in all its forms.

Brightside of all this? The discussion and I've discovered some new blogs! Please read my new post as well, An Open Letter to Bloomsbury.

Sign this petition stating that you will buy a book with a person of color on it or a GLBT teen or disabled or overweight if they are accurately represented on the cover.

81 comments:

  1. Ugh. That's terrible - ESPECIALLY coming from Bloomsbury. You would think they'd have learned their lesson after LIAR! Coincidentally, I just read Colleen's Demand Diversity post earlier this evening.

    I'm writing up an e-mail now, and I'm going to send this out on twitter and link it on my blog. Please keep us updated.

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  2. Well posted girl. I really didnt know there was any controversay with this book about the cover, i didnt know the girl was supposed to be a poc, but this is the second time this has happened with the same book publishing company and it is getting annoying. I think an email is definately necessary. Great Post!!!

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  3. I just got this book but have yet to read it. Obviously from just looking at the cover I had a different interpretation of what the character looked like. I'll continue to read the book even though that is very upsetting but after all, when it comes to the publishing word, authors get little say about the book covers. However, publishing companies should be held accountable for such things. I'll definitely be looking more into this.

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  4. I agree that this is terrible but I don't think it's fair not to buy the book. Authors work really hard on their books and they have little say in the covers. I wish there was a better way that this could be approached.

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  5. @Angela-You would think Liar had learned its lesson but apparentely not. Grrr. Glad you read Colleen's post and I'm super glad you're sending an email!

    @iluvhersheys and books-I didn't know there was any controversary either until I saw Ah Yuan's Gal Novelty post. Thanks for sending an email, you rock!

    @Nickeles-I'm happy you will still read the book and I look forward to reading your thoughts. I've read good reviews of the book, I just have a problem with the cover. That's the problem, no one is holding the publishing companies accountable. SOMETHING needs to be done!

    @katie-It's a hard choice because you're right I don't want to hurt the author and they have little say in their books, especially when they're debut authors but I can't buy the book. Read it yes, but buy a book with a white model when she's supposed to be a poc? No can do. I wish there was a better way too =/

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  6. E-mail sent, a link here posted on twitter, and a blog post up, too. Originally it was supposed to be a quick post just re-directing people here, but it turns out I had a lot to say!

    Part of my blog post is a proposal and a personal promise: I rarely talk about covers on my blog because they rarely catch my attention, but from now on I'm going to be calling out both accurate and inaccurate character representations on covers. Now I'm not going to get bent out of shape if a blonde model is used for a brunette character because in the long run that doesn't really matter, but in cases of race and ethnicity it really does matter. I also think it's good to highlight the positive as well as the negative, to prove that we really are paying attention and are happy when progress is made. It's too late to get the initial cover changed for this book, but we can encourage ALL publishers to think ahead a little bit and avoid incidents like this in the future.

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  7. Man! I'm reading this right before I go to bed (very late in the night), so tomorrow I'll make all the rounds I can. I just have to say - until I read your post I had NO idea that there was any controversy about this cover. I have also read quite a few reviews on this book, and don't remember seeing anywhere any mention of skincolor vs. cover. You're right - after Liar,I would think book bloggers and reviewers would catch this much sooner. Shame on everyone who didn't catch it (that read the book).

    I find it interesting that the UK cover (from my memory now) has mainly designs, I don't remember any people on the cover.

    I'm getting tired of book covers not representing the characters of the books. And for Bloomsbury - after Liar: how totally, criminally lame.

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  8. I'd never even heard about this title, never mind the cover issue. I've linked this on Facebook, my own blog, and the Child_Lit & Carl Brandon listservs...let's see if the kidlit blogosphere responds...

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  9. Have you seen these sketches from the author's webpage?

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/dolamore/sets/72157623108966348/

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  10. Haha, everyone is so much better about writing coherent posts... I was reduced to CAPLOCKS and BOLD at least once every paragraph I typed ranting about this.

    But yes, we must TALK ABOUT THIS. And mass email Bloomsbury to let them know that this is WRONG and UNACCEPTABLE. *fumes*

    Looking forward to your updated post.

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  11. Dingleberries at Bloomsbury. Best thing we can do is IGNORE it and not buy it. I can't believe how lame they are.

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  12. Yet another cover that doesn't represent the main character...that drives me crazy in general, but especially when race/ethnicity is involved! Emails to Bloomsbury sound like a good idea

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  13. I am interested to hear the author's response to this concern over the cover model.

    Zetta, you linked to the author's sketches of her character. What do you think about the sketches, the race/ethnicity depicted, and how it compares to the cover model?

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  14. Ari,

    I've been offline and when I come back it's the same Bullcrap at Bloomsbury! I'll be making my rounds.

    Kudos to you and Ah Yuan.

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  15. Strange, I didn't really mention it in my review because I thought EVERYONE was mentioning it.

    Great post, Bloomsbury is a bunch of dickheads. Do they think the teenage girls of America are too racist to read a book about a black girl?

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  16. I admit that I used to not pay a lot of attention to covers but I'm learning to. Especially now that I'm making more of an effort to read books by and about people of color. I just posted about this on my blog as well:

    http://multigenrefan.com/2010/01/tss-book-covers-that-lie-yet-again…/

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  17. LaurieA-B: I, too, would like to hear the author's POV b/c really, it was Justine Larbalestier's own outrage that most affected me...and having her stand in solidarity with us was crucial. Now, if those sketches reflect the image of the main character Ms. Dolamore had in HER mind, it's possible she was not all that put off by the model on the cover. It's also possible (and likely) that as a first-time author, she didn't feel it was in her best interest to speak out. Justine's character, Micah, was identified racially and the book's overall realism meant we understood the terms Justine used; she also posted a photo of Alana Beard, and said THAT was how she pictured Micah. Without Ms. Dolamore's input, it's all speculation, but those sketches also don't show a "dark-skinned" girl, in my opinion...

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  18. This is off topic, but I just gave you an award...prompted by this post http://helensbookblog.blogspot.com/2010/01/honest-scrap-award.html

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  19. Memory mentions the issue on her review here: http://xicanti.livejournal.com/173376.html and she and the author both talk about their dissappointment with the cover in the comments section. Apparently the cover was already set before the Liar controversy and because the book/author weren't as well known, it just didn't get the attention out there to change Bloomsbury's mind. :(

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  20. Thank you for bringing this to my attention, Ari. I've just blogged about it and will be e-mailing Bloomsbury.

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  21. Unfortunately, publishers are not only trying to make their covers look white, they are also trying to make them look thin. I recently read Secrets of Truth and Beauty by Megan Frazer (fantastic book, btw) and the main character is obese. This is a big part of the storyline. If you look at the cover you will see that although they don't show her whole body, all you have to do is look at her hands and face to see that the model in the picture is quite thin. Books about people of size rarely feature anything more than a cartoon of a fat girl silhouette, a picture of a scale, a photo of a back pocket or some other small, inoffensive body part, a dress on a hanger, or something else, ANYTHING ELSE, other than a picture of an actual person. All in the name of selling books, right?!

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  22. Thanks for bringing this to my attention! I did as you suggested and blogged about this as well. Also did some tweets about it, and some well-known bloggers didn't even realize there was a controversy, so perhaps more awareness really needs to be raised!

    Here's my post:
    http://readingisthespiceoflife.blogspot.com/2010/01/cover-controversy.html

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  23. While reading, I hadn't even noticed the text that says Nim is dark-skinned, and if Skins wasn't keeping me glued to the computer I would go get my ARC and look for the passage.

    ANYWAY.

    I cannot believe it happened again and in such a short period of time, as MUG only came out a few months after LIAR. It's really just ridiculous , and I hope that it can somehow be resolved because both Jaclyn and her book are excellent. :/

    *headdesk*

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  24. Gaaaaahhhh! And I was so excited for this one...

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  25. this is ridiculous. is it really so difficult to get a model to match the character?!

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  26. i just started reading Magic Under Glass this weekend, and hadn't heard about the controversy until today.

    I'm laughing at myself now, because while I was reading the book, I kept flipping back to the cover and thinking.... that doesn't look like Nim at all! The Liar cover controversy never even crossed my mind.... that doesn't reflect well on me I admit. I'm actually embarrassed that I never thought to question it!

    Thank you Ari for bringing this to my attention, even when I need to be slapped in the face to see it!

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  27. While the black and white sketches don't show skin color, there is one colored sketch in there. To me, Nimira's complexion looks medium-brown, like she might be from Pakistan or Bangladesh. (She definitely looks darker than Roman.)

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/dolamore/4232258070/in/set-72157623108966348/

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  28. I've posted my response, which includes all the quotes I could find which describe the character in question, which I thought might be useful.

    http://charlotteslibrary.blogspot.com/2010/01/cover-of-magic-under-glass.html

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  29. I came here via Ed. Anonymous's link and felt I had to chime in because I loved the book (and know Jackie, though I knew her writing first). I know she has a dark skinned girl in the book trailer that she made: here.

    And also when we were on a writers' retreat last year and alcohol was involved, the YA authors there decided it would be an awesome idea to draw pictures of our own characters on our hands and have them talk with each other while zombies attacked. Kindly note Nimira's skin color.

    Anyway, don't blame the author.

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  30. I was just coming to post what Maggie posted- the trailer that Jackie made for her own characters, which plainly show Nimira as dark-skinned, just as she is described in the book.

    It's so frustrating to be an author in this position- we have no control over our covers. We often don't know what's going to be on our covers until the company shows it to us, fait accompli.

    This is Bloomsbury's fail, not Jackie's.

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  31. Did you know that Ursula K. LeGuin was pissed-off with the cover of The Left Hand of Darkness. Her protagonist was supposed to be a poc. Actually her thesis was that in the future we'll all be so intermarried, none of us will be "white." Back then she didn't have the power to do anything about it. Now she does. I wonder if we could get her to champion this cause?

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  32. lol I see this post got longer!

    Um, I have a different take on the whole character sketches thing, possibly influenced by my voracious manga/manhwa readings, wherein the comics are all drawn in black-and-white. From my experience with manga/manhwa, race is not implicated so much as from the *looks* of the characters but more from what the author shows us through context of the story or clothes or just background information about their cast. (Haha, I just wrote a comment on this on Zetta's post so I feel like a parrot *dies*)

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  33. Thanks for posting this.

    I think this is such a huge deal, and what it comes down to is that the publishers choose to do this because they don't think that people will spend money on a book with a POC (or an overweight girl) on the cover when there are so many white faces to choose from.

    It's disgusting.

    I'm glad people (and Justine!) got so worked up about the Liar cover, and I'm glad this is causing a stir as well. (I haven't read this book, and I wasn't ever really planning on it...not really my thing.) Hopefully when publishers keep doing this we will keep letting them know that IT IS NOT OK.

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  34. The author's character sketches are black and white line drawings with no skin tones filled in at all, so how can you discern race from them? On the other hand, the color sketch clearly shows Nimira as dark-skinned.

    I really enjoyed Magic Under Glass, and thought Dolamore did an excellent job depicting the main character's experience of being "other."

    Write a letter to the publisher about the cover, for sure- they need to hear about this, and the whitewashing trend needs to stop. It is shameful. But at the same time, I hope the cover won't stand in the way of anyone's enjoyment of the book itself. If you don't feel comfortable purchasing it, check it out from your library- it's a lovely read!

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  35. Thanks for the post, Ari! I'm sorry to admit I wasn't too surprised. I think this happens more often that we know of or talk about...

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  36. Wow. I'm so glad you are letting us know about this... Definitely time to let our voices be heard!
    Thanks for all you do,
    Namaste,
    Lee

    ReplyDelete
  37. Just to help spread your word: http://bookgazing.blogspot.com/2010/01/bloomsbury-any-chance-you-could-get.html

    ReplyDelete
  38. I took your advice and blogged about this:

    http://iwasateenagebookgeek.blogspot.com/2010/01/i-havent-read-jaclyn-dolamores-magic.html

    ReplyDelete
  39. Hi, Ari! I've helped spread the word over here in the Philippines. Bloomsbury USA books are available in bookstores here and I'm telling my friends not to spend money on them.

    http://peteredmundlucy7.blogspot.com/2010/01/another-cover-fail-from-bloomsbury-usa.html

    Thank you so much for speaking out about this issue - and for encouraging us to, too!

    ReplyDelete
  40. Ari, thank you SO much for covering this issue. I am incensed that Bloomsbury failed AGAIN after the "Liar" debacle. As a librarian, I feel torn: do I refuse to buy this book until the publishers change the cover to something truly reflective of the book's content, or do I buy it now because refraining to do so also punishes the author and my readers? I'm thrilled that a POC is the main character--steampunk, like other genres, needs more non-white protags! Too bad the cover lies to me about it.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Hi, i've blogged about it too...

    You make some really good points! and true, bloomsbury should have learnt the first time around...but assholes will never stop being assholes...

    ReplyDelete
  42. Zetta and MissAttitude, you're mistaken about those sketches. Perhaps you don't think they do a good job of showing "dark skinned" in quick pencil sketches (I'm wondering how you would want that to be done on such a simple sketch) but if you look at the book trailer

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFvAq2lgrZ4

    In which those sketches have full color....

    There is absolutely no mistaking that the character is "dark skinned." It was the first time I discovered she was, actually, as I have only seen the cover and knew nothing else about the book.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Oops! I see you already addressed that. Mea culpa!

    ReplyDelete
  44. A lot of teen bloggers haven't read the book and they've only read the summary. So how are they supposed to know that the MC is dark-skinned when the summary doesn't mention it? How are they supposed to know that Bloomsbury is whitewashing? They don't so you shouldn't be furious that no one else ranted about the cover, cus only a few bloggers have read the book. Plus a lot of the big-name bloggers get a LOT of books to review, so it's obvious why many didn't speak out about it.

    Another thing, most cover artists don't read the book so they have no way of knowing if the MC is light-skinned or dark-skinned. They just design a cover that they think will be picked off the shelves based on the summary.

    Boycotting the book will only hurt the author who I believe is a debut author. In the long run, it will prevent the author from selling more books.

    The reason that the author didn't speak out is because she's a new author. Speaking out can get the publishers mad and some might not want to work with her in the future. Plus, she doesn't have the following that Justine has.

    And to the people who are talking about race: there's only one race--the human race. Skin color is just superficial but unfortunately not everyone sees it away.

    ReplyDelete
  45. @Diana-No problem, thanks for reemphaszing the point!

    @Anon-1) I specifically say in my letter that I would have thought teen bloggers who have READ the book will comment on the cover. I don't expect people who haven't read the book to comment on the cover, because you're right, they wouldn't know. But if you do blog about it and you haven't read the book, awesome!

    2)I agree. But that's the problem. Authors SHOULD get a say in choosing their covers so issues like this are ignored. You should read my current post because I address all this. And yes there is only one race, but the problem is that Bloomsbury seems to think that covers with poc on them won't sell, that's the issue here.
    3) I'm not encouraging anyone to boycott the author. I'm encouraging them to blog/email/speak out and buy books about poc. Nowhere in my post do I tell people to boycott the author. Do I say that I'm not buying the book? Yes because for me, as a poc, I can't support a publishing company that tells me that I'm not good enough to be on a book cover, that I won't sell books. But I'll get it from the library and that still helps the author.

    Finally, I think you should go back and read both of my posts because I do address these issues. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your opinion

    ReplyDelete
  46. I just want to thank you for posting this information! I hadn't heard about the controversy of this book, but I followed the Liar issue closely. I look forward to seeing what may happen with this title. I also wrote a blog in response to it - it's important to keep readers informed! Here's my link:

    http://theninjalibrarian.blogspot.com/2010/01/cover-issues.html

    ReplyDelete
  47. Thank you for collecting all these links and posting about it! I'm slowly reading through them all. In the interim, I have posted about it.

    http://manifesta.dreamwidth.org/16187.html

    ReplyDelete
  48. Also, it seems Dear Author has posted about it, and included links to contact the publisher.

    http://dearauthor.com/wordpress/2010/01/19/is-bloomsbury-hanging-out-the-whites-only-sign/

    ReplyDelete
  49. This is appalling. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. Consider the word spread.

    http://community.livejournal.com/genrereviews/212113.html

    ReplyDelete
  50. Ari, just heard about this. I'm in...this is crazy. Look for a blog post soon (literally, like this evening) at http://lrgiles.blogspot.com. Thx for all you do.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Go, Ari! Voices raised do have an effect!
    Namaste,
    Lee

    ReplyDelete
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  62. I think everyone thinks this is terrible but don't hurt the author by not buying the book. Authors work hard on their books and they should have more say in the covers.

    ReplyDelete
  63. Je viens de recevoir ce livre, mais n'ont pas encore lu. Il est évident à partir simplement en regardant la couverture que j'ai eu une interprétation différente de ce que le personnage ressemblait. Je vais continuer à lire le livre même si c'est très pénible, mais après tout, quand il s'agit de la parole de publication, les auteurs obtiennent peu dire sur la couverture du livre. Cependant, les maisons d'édition doivent être tenus pour responsables de telles choses. Je vais certainement être à la recherche de plus dans ce.

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  65. It looks like they are commisioning covers on the cheap. Whoever is doing the cover is not even reading the book, just getting instructions, like a glass jar, girl in a white dress that smells a bit historic and so on. That is my guess. If you look at many book covers these days, you would not really pick many books judging by the cover.

    ReplyDelete
  66. And Liar is a great book that deserved a great cover, read my review

    ReplyDelete
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