I wrote recently about how I felt reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, how unabashedly Hispanic the story was and how rare I found it to be. No one has any say over what I read. It comes down to what I decide on. Sometimes it’s a whim while browsing at my local store (rare), but usually it’s just whatever I decide.
Goodreads gives easy access and insight into one’s reading habits and trends. This isn’t new to me, but my reading is heavily white and male. I imagine this is the case for many because publishing (like so many areas of society) skews similarly. After reading Diaz’ aforementioned story, I think it brought my grand total of books by Hispanic authors to 4 out of roughly 300.
What I’ve found in these last few weeks is even when discovering an author I want to try for the first time, so often the book(s) are difficult to find anywhere. There’s one in particular I’ve had my eye on and I can’t seem to find it anywhere but Amazon for $22.
Have you read any Hispanic authors you’d recommend?
We Read Too. It’s the name of an app to help readers discover books about and written by minorities.
While everyone a few years ago was posting on social media that We Need Diverse Books and doing NOTHING to actually accomplish that goal some people were actually coming up with ideas and solutions. Thus, the app.
The app acts as a directory of books with what we call diverse authors an characters. Basically anyone who is non-white. Like myself. Personally I’d like to read more books with Latino characters or authors. But those books are massively outnumbered in the marketplace by booms mostly written by old white guys. Which isn’t inherently bad. It just is what it is.
Remember that whole thing that started in 2014 about the lack of diversity in books? You know, the one that had readers changing their profile pictures on social media to show their support for the movement. Well a new study suggests they were asking for the wrong thing.
Diversity in publishing is what we need. Because then diversity in books would slowly follow. Here are some stats from the survey conducted by Lee and Row over the course of a year.
78 percent of industry employees are female.
79 percent are white.
86 percent of executives are white.
82 percent of editorial staff are white.
84 percent of editorial staff are female.
This was a voluntary survey sent out to dozens of publishers and journals. There is no way for the results to be 100 percent accurate. But if these numbers are even close to being true they make you think about something people say very often, that publishing is dominated by old, white men. I don’t know. Maybe it is. But maybe that’s just an easy way to criticize an industry with blanket statements that people won’t argue because they only know the few super authors they read (who happen to be old, white men).
If books lack diversity (which they do) it isn’t because of the authors writing the books, it’s because of those who work to publish them. Let’s make sure we’re pointing our fingers at the right people here. All this crap people say about not reading white men is absolutely ridiculous.
The whole thing is stupid. Read whatever you want. Or at least have more fact than speculation on your side.
What do you think? I say diversity in publishing leads to diversity in books. And right now we have neither.
You can read the results here.