Dog-Eared and Dispatched: February 28, 2016
A strange week in book culture gives rise to increased attention given to killers turned authors turned celebrities, and an investigation of the disproportionately challenged books of diverse authors. With the acquisition of a Syrian refugee’s memoir and the creation of a Muslim children’s imprint within the Big Five, is American publishing fighting for representation and equity, or adopting the tokenism of diversity as the next hot trend? It may be too early to tell, but get ready. Set? Read!
The American Library Association’s annual awareness campaign about censorship is focusing on banned books written by people of color. The week of events seeks to interrogate why titles by non-white writers are so often challenged. The ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom has suggested that over half of all banned books are by authors of color. Why are diverse books are being disproportionately singled out? Charles Brownstein, chair of the Banned Books Week Coalition, says “it’s alarming to see so many diverse voices facing censorship, and 2016’s Banned Books Week is an important moment for communities to join together in affirming the value of diverse ideas and multiple viewpoints.” [Publishers Weekly, GalleyCat, Shelf Awareness, Slate, American Library Association]
In the same week, Amazon pulled Robert Pickton’s title from the website, and the Saskatchewan government seized $14,000 of book profits from Colin Thatcher’s Final Appeal. Pickton was convicted in 2007 of killing six women in British Columbia, and his 144-page paperback, Pickton: In His Own Words, has been causing controversy since Amazon began carrying the work in January. Thatcher was convicted in 1984 and released in 2006 for the first-degree murder of his ex-wife. While Amazon is hoping to slow the sale of the Pickton title, the Saskatchewan government is actually channeling the sales of Pickton toward change. The confiscated money is going to two groups—targeting domestic violence and assisting survivors of homicide. [Publishers Weekly, Leaderpost]
- A rare books dealer reported $350,000 worth of books stolen in his van during a trip to San Francisco.
- Simon & Schuster launched an imprint for Muslim children’s books.
- HarperCollins acquired the world rights in all languages for a memoir by Nujeen Mustafa, a disabled teen Syrian refugee.
- Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is relocating its offices to Portland, Oregon, beginning this June.