Portland State University. Department of English
Publishers and publishing, Cultural pluralism in publishing -- Measurement, Multiculturalism in literature
The conversation in book publishing has established that the industry is remarkably, well, white. We abstractly understand that minority groups have not been represented well, if at all, in our literary history; and, I would add, most publishers including the tenor-setting Big Five, want to change this heternormative face of the book industry. In fact, the question in all American media today is how do we make our fictional worlds better reflect our lived existence? But, as we talk about improving the inclusivity of our chosen medium, there is a conversation that is being missed as we canvas the landscape of the publishing industry: first, how are these books being marketed and sold; and second, have we considered what we’re saying to the audience. This paper will not point to a silver bullet to cure the woefully monochromatic book industry, but it will ask us to pause and more carefully consider the material effects of the words we use as markings of race and ethnicity, particularly in consumer-facing language. First we will look at why we should take this measured look at marketing language, and then discuss examples where the materiality of the marketing language predisposes the audience to stereotypical racial assumptions.
Wathey, Jordana Beh, "What Color Is the Threshold? An Exploration of the Materiality of Racial Descriptions in Marketing Paratext in Adult Fiction" (2017). Book Publishing Final Research Paper. 27.