The Silver Phoenix cover change has made me realize something; we can't just target the publishers, it's time to contact the bookstores.
Unbeknownst to me, only a few white men are in charge of buying books for large chains like Borders and Barnes and Noble. Granted I don't have any links to that information so if you know where I can find it, please share that information in the comments. This is a HUGE problem. I'm sorry, I just don't have as much faith in white men being committed to featuring diverse reads. Publishers can publish as many books about POC as they want but if large bookstores refuse to buy them, it becomes harder for publishers to 'take a chance' on books by/about POC, especially if they are debuts. I realize that publishing is first and foremost a business, but I would think it is business savvy to reach out to as many customers as you can. Why risk alienating African Americans, Asians, Latinos, and Native Americans?
Silver Phoenix was passed
on by borders and carried in only limited quantities
in select barnes and noble stores. she simply wasn’t
being picked up by readers as much as we’d have liked
From Cindy Pon's blog post about the cover change
Borders didn't even give the book a chance and it's not good enough when only a limited number of Barnes and Noble stores pick up the books. I also know that Neesha Meminger's Shine, Coconut Moon is not carried in Borders or Barnes and Noble. I don't think Mitali Perkins' books are carried in either chain as well (correct me if I'm wrong). That is unacceptable and needs to change. Change is slow but we've been fighting this for almost a year and we've seen two covers changed and more posts popping up about the lack of diversity in children's books. We are making progress. Maybe not fast enough for my liking, but it is there.
A great post about this can be found at megwrites: Attack of the Whitewashing
I would like to start a letter writing campaign. I'm asking everyone to write to Borders or Barnes and Noble. Personally I think it would be most effective to contact Borders due to the fact that Barnes and Noble is the largest chain bookstore in the U.S (Borders is #2). Therefore, should Borders pay attention to all letters and emails being sent to them, it might help them get ahead. If Barnes and Noble ignores our demands for more diversity in publishing, we can take our business elsewhere and we should tell Borders that in our letters.
I invite everyone to write a letter/email to Borders or Barnes and Noble (or your local chain bookstore) and post it on their blog. Then come back to this post and leave the link in the comments. I would love to be able to have a long list of links to letters. If you don't have a blog, leave your letter in the comments.
Contact Borders Contact Barnes and Noble ETA: I've been told that we should contact the CEO of the bookstore divisions. Bloggers count as media so contact the CEO of Borders boosktore divions, Michael Edwards here For Barnes and Noble if you are a blogger (I consider us reporters in a way) go here to request contact information for Jamie Carey, chief merchandising officer.
I will update this post with my own letter as well. However we can't just stop with letter writing, we need to commit to buying books about POC. The worst thing that could happen would be for us to work so hard to get POC books in stores and then have consumers not buy them. That can not (will not!) happen. I would love to see in each and every In My Mailbox post, New Crayons, etc. one book by/about a POC. One purchase a month (I know we bookaholics buy more than one book a month!), a seemingly small step but you never know. It could make a big difference.
We should also shine a light on chain bookstores that are committed to diversity. I think indie bookstores are already doing a great job of it, they are definitely more receptive.
Other ideas? Share in the comments!
Amy's (from My Friend Amy) letter to Borders and Barnes and Noble
Borders response to my letter
Thanks for writing Borders regarding Borders Youth selection.
We welcome your comments, as we rely on feedback from customers to improve on the services and products we provide. It is our objective to keep a wide variety of authors and titles on our shelves at all times.
Online there is an even more broad selection. If you are unable to locate the item you are looking for a store associate will happily assist you in a search online. I've also forwarded your comments on to the Borders Customer Care team for their consideration. While I cannot guarantee that a change will be made, we do appreciate that you've taken the time to send us your ideas.
If you have any other questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact us.
Reading in Color Note: Apparently my letter got cut off a bit, which may have something to do with the short response. It sounds like a form letter. I'm going to re-send it via email firstname.lastname@example.org. I have also decided to MAIL a copy of my letter to Borders headquarters. I will keep everyone updated.