Whitewashing Book Covers

We’ve all heard about it: the disturbing trend of publishers who choose to tell little white lies when designing their covers (especially for American audiences). The publishers point the finger at the bookstores, who allegedly balk at buying titles with PoC (people of color) covers, unless they are destined for segregation in the African American section. The major chains allegedly claim that they just don’t sell, and that white Americans want white characters on their covers. Do we?

Justine Larbalestier’s LIAR:
original (left) and updated rereleased American versions

This topic is important to me because I’m a white writer who writes a lot of non-white characters. My last four projects have had major characters who were PoC: Korean, American Indian, Black, and biracial. When I see other books being published with PoC who have been whitewashed on the covers in order to move units, it makes me concerned about my own publishing future, in light of my preferences to not always “write white.”

I’ve read several other authors’ takes on this subject, and the excellent review site, The Book Smugglers, has done an incredible job of compiling a lot of the info into a compelling blog post that every lover of books really should read. Go here now:

The Book Smugglers’ “Cover Matters” post