Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Dear Greenwillow Books

Dear Greenwillow Books,

I understand that you are worried about the sales of Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon and the potential sales of its sequel, Fury of the Phoenix. Oh, I know that you are not worried that Asian-inspired YA fantasy will not sell. If that was your worry, then you would never have chosen to publish Silver Phoenix and Fury of the Phoenix in the first place.

The hardcover edition of Silver Phoenix has an Asian model on the cover. The paperback edition of Silver Phoenix and the hardcover edition of Fury of the Phoenix both use a Caucasian model on the cover. I take that to mean that you are worried that American readers will not buy books with Asians on the cover.




Whitewashing a book cover does injustice to the book because it misrepresents the book and misleads readers. Moreover, there is racism at work in the whitewashing of book covers because of the underlying assumption that Asian faces are "not good enough" to sell books, or that Asian faces will somehow "turn off" non-Asian readers and keep them from buying the book.

Honestly? Those assumptions HURT.

Here's an idea, Greenwillow: Worried about the sales of an Asian-inspired YA fantasy novel? Next time try to refrain from whitewashing the book cover, which is morally wrong. Try selling more copies of the book (with an Asian model on the cover of course, or no model on the cover at all) in Asia. There are ONE BILLION children and teenagers in Asia. Worried about having to translate the book? There's no need to worry! There are MILLIONS of Asian children and teenagers who speak, read, and write in English. And try selling more copies of the book to the millions of people who are part of the Asian diaspora all over the world.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Off to buy multiple copies of the hardcover edition of Silver Phoenix,

Tarie Sabido

10 comments:

Nymeth said...

As always, wonderfully said, Tarie.

Hull.Margaret said...

AMEN

April (BooksandWine) said...

Well-spoken!

I ordered 2 copies of the original to show support for that cover.

The new ones are kind of fug.

LM Preston said...

I loved the first cover. Loved it. Now to be honest, I wouldn't have known if the person on the cover was Asian or not. It just seems more sinister that the eyes are cut out. I believe it could have been marketed better. If I'm an author of a small press publisher and booksellers have purchased my books, I don't see how a larger publishing house couldn't pull off a diverse cover. My daughter loved he cover and it was the reason she specifically asked to purchase it - online.

Tarie said...

Thanks for your support, everyone! Gosh, they should have just gone with graphic covers for the books. The Twilight books prove that graphic covers can sell well. Why the need to slap Asian and non-Asian readers alike with whitewashing?

mamacandtheboys.com said...

The first thing I am going to do with my 8th grade students in the fall is going to be inspired by your letter. As always, thank you.

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hitman 13 said...

I believe it could have been marketed better. If I'm an author of a small press publisher and booksellers have purchased my books, I don't see how a larger publishing house couldn't pull off a diverse cover.


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Ms. Yingling said...

I look very hard for book covers with pictures of people of varying ethnicity! All students should be able to see themselves on the covers of books. This is really infuriating. The first cover is a good one.

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