ETA: Ari has a post up on all this as well plus some great links to other posts. It's a must read if you're following this issue.
There has been a spate of posts up recently concerning a new title from Bloomsbury, Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore and how its cover apparently does not match up with its description of the main character. Here's a bit from GAL Novelty:
Okay, basic summary of the situation: There is a debut novel out there called Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore, and our protagonist is apparently written into the text as dark-skinned...... Damn, I don't know about you, but that girl there sure looks whitey-white to me!!
She links to bookshop's lj where a resolution to not purchase books from Bloomsbury has been put forth:
The cover of Magic Under Glass? It's been public since the Liar controversy. Bloomsbury was able to yank the original cover of Liar and change it 2 months before it went to press. They had over six months to do the same for Magic Under Glass.
But it was a debut novel whose author didn't have a foothold in the publishing world that would allow her to protest, as Larbalestier did. Also, the reviewing blogosphere generally doesn't review books before they're published. So without the author to spearhead a call to action, there has been none over the whitewashing of Magic Under Glass, and Bloomsbury? Well, obviously, they weren't concerned.
Bookshop links to The Book Smugglers who have a review up of Magic Under Glass and loved the book but include this caveat:
I can't finish this review without mentioning the cover and title of the book. Even though both are lovely (and I like the UK cover as well), I am left wondering about them as I see no connection to the actual story inside! Why Magic Under Glass? I have no clue! There is no "glass" in the book, the impression I get from the cover is that something is "trapped" under glass but there is nothing of the sort. And another point: Nimira is supposed to be dark-skinned !!!! The book trailer captures that and is true to the book...but the girl in the US covers is definitely white.
Abby the Librarian weighs in with the bigger question here - just why the heck Bloomsbury would do something like this in the first place:
And while I agree with all that and Bloomsbury really should have learned their lesson, I can't help but think that this is still all a symptom. Why is Bloomsbury publishing this book with this cover? Because they think it will sell more copies.
We vote every day with our credit cards and we need to be the change we want to see*. So we should all keep that in mind the next time we're at the book store and the next time we're choosing which book to publicize on our blogs. I'm not any better than anyone else when it comes to promoting books by and about people of color, but it's time for a change.
It should be noted that there is one very big difference here from the Liar controversy: the author in this case has said nothing. She has to know what is being said but even though she has a blog, Dolamore has yet to chime in with a single opinion. In fact when asked about the US and UK covers her response has been notably bland: "I'm so happy with both of them, I would hate to choose one!"
I'm thinking she better chime in sooner rather than later on the racism issue. Further, I'm with Abby that the chosen cover is completely forgettable. The UK cover is better and either could be easily replaced with a cover that showed nothing physical about the main character at all if Bloomsbury is so paranoid that a dark skinned heroine will wig out customers. (Although you would think that The Princess & the Frog and, I don't know, the freaking First Family, have proven that these days are behind us!)
I have the current Spring/Summer catalog from Bloomsbury and I counted 28 covers with depictions of the characters. (Where skin color is visible - some of these have been out for a year but are newly released in PB). Of these, there are two that have Kids of Color front and center and a couple that have them as part of a group shot. Those two books with the front and center shots are Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles, a teen romance between Carlos Fuentes and Kiara Westford (she's shy, he's wild, miscommunication keeps them apart but "hot romance" is promised) and What Momma Left Me by Renee Watson, a MG title about Serenity whose father murders her mother causing her and her brother to go live with their "kind but strict" grandparents.
I'm trying to think of any other books I've seen in recent years about one parent murdering the other - any ideas?
Bloomsbury continues to love the photo realistic covers more than anybody else in the business, (What Momma Left Me is not a photo, but illustration), and I'd love to know why. They really are not working at all and honestly seem to limit their audience more than broaden it. Magic Under Glass does not have a good cover - it's not the slightest bit distinctive and honestly I didn't even give it a second glance when the Winter catalog came my way last year. The only reason I caught Lady MacBeth's Daughter (in my current column) is because of the author - I enjoyed Lisa Klein's earlier book, Ophelia, and was eager for more from her. Otherwise, what I saw in the new catalog was one cover after another that looked so much alike they blurred together. Whoever is making these calls is not only making some occasional discriminatory choices, but they are also doing a major disservice to all of their authors with these lousy covers. There is nothing memorable about them and no reason to pick them up.
The Bloomsbury cover fail is total as far as I'm concerned - their covers do not do a single thing to help sell their books and in some cases, they are actually harming them. What the heck could they be thinking?
ETA: Charlotte weighs in with some exact quotes from the book describing the main character.
[Post pic of US cover top, UK cover middle.]