July 24, 2009

Justine Larbalestier addresses the cover image of Liar

Author Justine Larbalestier addresses the issue of the cover image of her latest book, "Liar," whereupon a white female is pictured when the text indicates that the protagonist is black. She expresses fierce disappointment in the decision of the cover image made by publishing house Bloomsbury -- authors do not get final say over cover images, she says, and the marketing team felt it was far more important to have a sale-able cover image. Larbalestier pointedly writes:
Every year at every publishing house, intentionally and unintentionally, there are white-washed covers. Since I’ve told publishing friends how upset I am with my Liar cover, I have been hearing anecdotes from every single house about how hard it is to push through covers with people of colour on them. Editors have told me that their sales departments say black covers don’t sell. Sales reps have told me that many of their accounts won’t take books with black covers. Booksellers have told me that they can’t give away YAs with black covers. Authors have told me that their books with black covers are frequently not shelved in the same part of the library as other YA—they’re exiled to the Urban Fiction section—and many bookshops simply don’t stock them at all. How welcome is a black teen going to feel in the YA section when all the covers are white? Why would she pick up Liar when it has a cover that so explicitly excludes her?