Archive for the controversy Category

Whitewashing Article

Posted in book covers, controversy, people of color, stock photos, symbols, trends on June 12, 2010 by Jacket Whys

Tanita Davis, author of Mare’s War has a great article, “Reflected Faces“, up on Hunger Mountain: the VCFA Journal of the Arts. In it she says:

It still seems as if young people with brown skin are acceptable to ignore, at least in the marketing departments where the Powers That Be have determined that Brown doesn’t equal Buy… This may seem unimportant—at least young adults of color are included in contemporary YA literature. They’re IN the books, and so if the nonwhite characters don’t make it to the cover as often, at least there are nonwhite characters, right? Shouldn’t that be sufficient when Caucasians comprise two thirds of the American population?

I’m working on a post comparing POC coverage ten or twenty years ago, with today. It’s lots of background work, so stay tuned – it’ll be up sometime!

Oh, and here’s the other article in a section they’re calling “Flipside“, “Teens Do Judge a Book by the Cover” by Mitali Perkins (in the same issue of the same journal). She says:

Get most faces OFF the covers of young adult novels.

Hear, hear! (and see my next post)

POC on Book Covers

Posted in controversy, people of color on January 21, 2010 by Jacket Whys

I am really struggling with the last four in my 10 Best Book Covers of 2009 list. Can you tell?
Meantime I’m off reading other peoples cover posts. And the plot thickens… Bookshelves of doom has found another one.
AND Bloomsbury has temporarily stopped selling Magic Under Glass while they fix it up with a new cover.
Now that we are all sensitized to this, I wonder what else will crop up.

Oh, no. Not again!

Posted in book covers, controversy, people of color on January 17, 2010 by Jacket Whys

So I guess there’s another Bloomsbury “coverfail” or “racefail” or whatever kind of fail you want to call it.

If you, like me a few minutes ago, haven’t caught wind of Chapter 2 get introduced here:
Really Bloomsbury? I’m Done. The Publishing World Needs to Take Note at Reading in Color.

Unlike some of the people who have blogged about the fail, I do not like this cover – it’s a run-of-the-mill, assembly line cover just like many, many other covers. It seems some marketing departments figure they’ve discovered the formula for selling lots of books. Boy, I like to think it’s not true.
Some have asked “where is the outrage” on this issue. I thought there was plenty of outrage with the first blog outing of a “racefail” cover. I guess not enough. I’m hoping this second run does the trick.

I, for one, will be looking to see/highlight people of color on more book covers. And real people, not just the beautiful ones.

UPDATE: The author responds. I have a great deal of sympathy for all of the authors who put their heart and soul into creating something – and then have no say in the packaging. It doesn’t seem right to make this author pay for a marketing mistake.

Book Covers Change Lives

Posted in book covers, controversy on October 12, 2009 by Jacket Whys

A librarian who came into my workplace recently told me about this story that she had heard on NPR’s Story Corps. It’s a day off (Columbus Day) and I finally found the time to listen to the story.
From the NPR transcriptNeal remembers it being ‘risque — a drawing of a woman who appeared to be wearing something that was basically see-through. But the symbolism was really great for me at that age of 16.'”
I went looking around the internet for that cover that helped to morph one troubled African American teenager into a judge – and the covers I found are shown below. The book was Frank Yerby‘s 1955 historical novel, The Treasure of Pleasant Valley (Dial). None of these covers quite match Neal’s description. But maybe we get the idea.
When I was a teen, my reading friends and I loved Fairoaks (1957). I sure don’t remember thinking/knowing that he was an African American author – the first, noted by this Frank Yerby encyclopedia article, to “to write a best-selling novel and to have a book purchased by a Hollywood studio for a film adaptation.”
It reminds me of conversation around the blogs, about the Liar controversy. You sure can’t tell from these covers that the author is African American. We just haven’t far enough…

Yerby - Treasure of Pleasant Valley 3Yerby - Treasure of Pleasant Valley 2

Yerby - Treasure of Pleasant ValleyYerby - Treasure of Pleasant Valley 4

Treasure of Pleasant Valley: Here’s a blurb from Jet Magazine (November 2, 1955 page 46), where the book was featured as “Book of the Week
“When young South Carolina-born Bruce Harkness walked into a San Francisco saloon in the daring days of the Gold Rush, his pulse pounded at the sight of the costumes worn by pretty waitresses. The fronts were full, ruffled skirts falling below the knees. ‘But the backs of the costume,’ Bruce observed, ‘was something else again: the skirts, seen from the rear were merely aprons, cut well above the hips, so that, since the girls were also required to wear black silk stockings held up by a garter belt, and absolutely nothing else, the effect when they wheeled smartly about and marched away after taking an order was a trifle startling.’
“In The Treasure of Pleasant Valley historical novelist Frank Yerby turns to the California of the 1840s to tell the story of the young southern adventurer, Bruce Harkness, in a world where men are driven mad by the greed of gold and the scarcity of women. But in this land of lawlessness Bruce’s life took a new turn when he went to a stream for a drink of water and saw the lovely Juana ‘glistening like a golden statue of a tribal goddess’ as she stood undraped in the water.
“Tormented by the love that he later held for her, Bruce takes flight from the gold fields upon learning that she is the wife of the reckless Pepe de Cordoba, who had become his companion. Finding himself hopelessly ensnared by Juana’s love, he returns to her in one of the most turbulent climaxes Yerby has ever written.
“Like his first nine historical novels, The Treasure of Pleasant Valley is destined to become the 20th best-seller in Yerby’s incredible career as an author. R.E.J”

The Power of -Controversy

Posted in book covers, controversy on August 6, 2009 by Jacket Whys

I was just talking with a friend about the Liar controversy – conversation during which I said I thought Bloomsbury would do something in response to the uproar. At the very least, I guessed they’d do a new paper jacket with a more fitting cover. And I came home to this (thanks to the author)!


So what do you think?

UPDATE:  8/7/09. For Tanita (see comments): I agree with you – and I’m actually about a third of the way through the book. I love the face on this cover. I wonder if it isn’t a little closer to what you would have hoped for Liar (except for this woman is absolutely beautiful).

Hot girl

Hot Girl by Dream Jordan (interview with the author)

Authors Love Their Cover Art (Sometimes)

Posted in book covers, controversy on July 23, 2009 by Jacket Whys

This post has been in the works for a while. I hadn’t intended to post it now, but with Justine Larbalestier’s new post about the US cover of Liar, I’m going ahead with it.
When I see a new book with an awful cover, I always wonder how the author feels. A bad cover seems like a death knell for what might be a good book. (I don’t know if it means these titles have not succeeded, but none of the books I called the Duds of 2007 have been scheduled for paperback…)
But you never see the author out there complaining, right? A number of comments on a post at Editorial Anonymous asked why the author wasn’t speaking out – “I’m somewhat surprised that the author isn’t the least bit bothered.”
Picture this: You have a new book. You tried to influence the cover choice, but you only have so much influence. A catch-22, to be sure. You hate the cover but you want people to buy/read your book. You’re not going to jinx that are you?
The only thing you can do is this? Larbalestier says “It was designed by Danielle Delaney the genius responsible for the paperback cover of How To Ditch Your Fairy. Have I mentioned that’s my fave cover I’ve ever had?” Do you notice that she said THAT (referring to How To Ditch Your Fairy) was her favorite cover? She never says she loves this cover.
Originally, I planned to title this post “Authors LOVE Their Covers.” But I was always looking for one who didn’t…
Never found one really… Did Dakota Lane do this: Imaginary Gothic Lolita covers because she didn’t like her cover??? Her imaginary covers are not at all like what came out on the published book.

But here are a gallery of authors announcing cover art they love:

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld (October 2009) – “In celebration of my birthday…”

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson (Simon & Schuster 2008 )
“In much happier news, I can share the cover of my fall book with you!!” – She doesn’t really comment, but she’s happy to share…

The Good Neighbors by Holly Black (Graphix 2008 )
“Hey, look what I found on Amazon! I am correcting the pages right now, so it probably shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to me, but still! It’s real!… My fingers itch to show you some interior art, because Ted is so fabulous, but I am forced to wait.”

The Unnameables by Emily Booraem (Harcourt 2008 )
“Here’s the gorgeous cover for The Unnameables, designed by Linda Lockowitz. I think Photoshop is involved, but I don’t know where the elements came from. Anyway, it’s very cool, and fits the book beautifully.”

The Journal of Curious Letters by James Dashner (Shadow Mountain 2008 )
“The artist’s name is Bryan Beus. He has officially joined the Dashner Dude’s Top Twenty Most Favored People List, bumping Abe Lincoln to Number 21. Also, major kudos go out to Richard Erickson and his incredible team at Shadow Mountain.”

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (Tor Teen 2008 )
“Tor Books’s brilliant Art Director Irene Gallo worked with designer Peter Lutjen to create the cover for the book — the best one I’ve had to date.” My comment: Too bad they didn’t use this one! I like it better than the one with the photo on it…

Gotcha! by Shelley Hrdlitschka (Orca 2008 )
“Seeing the cover art for my books is always such a thrill. The book suddenly becomes real. Until now it was just a story, a stack of manuscript pages, but now I can see that it really is going to become a book. And I especially like this cover. It is perfect. I have no input into what goes onto the covers of my book, so it’s always a relief when I like them.”

How to Ditch your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier (Bloomsbury September 2008 )
“You know what the most fabulous part of it is? (Other than the quote from Libba Bray2 ) My name is as big as the title. My name is bigger than it’s ever been! Oh, happy day!”

Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass (Little Brown October 2008 )
“A sneak peek of the cover for my next book, Every Soul a Star. It’s not coming out until September but I really love the cover and couldn’t wait to share it.”

The Morgue and Me by John C. Ford (Viking 2009)
“Why do I love it so?  Let me count the ways…”