Diversity in publishing has been widely discussed in recent years due to a lack of diversity among publishing professionals as well as among the stories being published. This problem has been the subject of various panels for a number of years, and the question of whether diversity is simply “trendy” has been raised in the publishing industry just as it has elsewhere. But two organizations are working to make sure that the push for diverse books is not just a trend, and so far they’ve been successful.
To anyone that’s been paying attention to recent trends in young adult (YA) over the last four or five years, the line-up of books slated for 2019 is both timely and highly anticipated. With the push for diversity in literature and media still going as strong as ever (perhaps even stronger than ever), it seems that publishers have finally started to seriously answer the call. Young adult (and middle grade) lists are heavy with POC leads and the number of books about LGBTQ characters has doubled since the last few publishing seasons (and that’s just looking at books coming out—pun intended—between January and April! The list for May through June is even longer!). This is extra important when you consider that as recently as 2012, just over 1 percent of YA books had any LGBTQ content at all.
The saying is “don’t judge a book by its cover,” but the truth is, we all do—and we’re actually supposed to. Someone designed that cover with specific intentions for you, the reader, to pull the book off the shelf and take a closer look. If I think about it too hard, I realize how shallow and materialistic I am as a reader and how hard a cover has to work just to get me to pick it up. My recent interest in cover design has to do with a challenge I’m undertaking this year to read at least thirty books with a main character who would be classified as a minority in America. Finding books that show this diversity on the cover is actually a lot more difficult than I expected.
Some fields, such as mathematics and philosophy, have more than seven author credits given to men for every one given to women.
If history is really what makes humans human, it seems like the effort to be more respectful and inclusive of other peoples has to include the acknowledgement of and effort to learn about history.
For most of my life, the majority of books I’ve read have been written by white men, from the picture books I grew up with to most of my favorite childhood series, and then almost everything I read as an English student throughout high school and college. It’s not that books by white men are all the same, or that they’re all bad. It’s that these books share a similar perspective. I had become so used to the white male viewpoint that I subconsciously recognized it as the standard.