Last year, Booker-winning author Marlon James caused a stir in the literary world when he suggested that writers of color have to pander to white women to get published. Although many other writers of color publicly agreed with James, he was the target of several rebuttals. However, a new survey of the publishing industry by Lee & Low shows James might have been right all along. The survey looked at 70 publishers in the US and Canada, including three of the Big 5 (Hachette, Penguin Random House, and Macmillain) as well as many smaller publishers. The survey revealed that the publishing industry is overall 79% white, 78% women, and 88% straight. Even at the executive level, straight white women accounted for the majority of positions and at the editorial level a huge 84% of desks belong to white women.



Inside The Business of Organics

Inside The Business of Organics

The overwhelming whiteness of publishing has been a major subject in the literary world with campaigns such as #WeNeedDiverseBooks seeing to highlight the lack of books by and about people of color.

Hannah Ehrlich at Lee & Low Books noted that “just because you are a woman, that doesn’t make you an expert in the marginalization that people of color face or people with disabilities face. Do not assume that because women are successful or are in positions of power that that means that that success or power will automatically be offered out or shared with other marginalized groups.”

14 Responses

  1. Ginger Meurer

    Fascinating breakdown. I hope to see another on who is out there buying books and reading books. I suspect the pie charts may be similar.

      • Seth

        I doubt that’s what was intended. Minorities are by definition in the minority, and publishers want to make money so focus on the largest market, white women. Not saying that’s how it should be, but that’s how it is.

      • Martin R.

        Yes. Yes of course. That’s what she’s saying. That’s exactly what she’s saying. She’s saying black people don’t read. I think it’s clear. She’s saying that. Implying it. And we all agree. That’s right, all of us white people. We all think people who aren’t white don’t read. Okay? That’s it. You got us. You got us! And we’re not sorry! We didn’t mean for it to get out, but Ginger screwed up, she let the cat out of the bag. There’s nothing to do now but admit it––

        White people love inadvertent racial implications! Love them!

        And we’re not sorry!

  2. Amy Peterson

    I would love to know how the statistics on the sexual orientation were gathered…

  3. Morgan

    I wish they would add class background and ask people where they went to college. We really need to talk about how only the wealthy can buy into this industry.


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