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Writers of colour pander to the white woman

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Award winning author, Marlon James says, as reported in The Guardian's article: 'Writers of colour pander to the white woman'

The 2015 Man Booker prize winner Marlon James has slammed the publishing world, saying authors of colour too often “pander to white women” to sell books, and that he could have been published more often if he had written “middle-style prose and private ennui”.

At a sold-out Guardian event on Friday night, James said publishers too often sought fiction that “panders to that archetype of the white woman, that long-suffering, astringent prose set in suburbia. You know, ‘older mother or wife sits down and thinks about her horrible life’.”

Women, particularly white women, make up the vast majority of regular fiction readers, purchasing two thirds of all books sold in the UK. Almost 50% of women classify themselves as avid readers, compared to 26% of men. (read the rest of the article)

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From facebook

So I'm still unpacking Claire Vaye Watkins' potentially game changing essay, "On Pandering," going almost a section per day. What I'm thinking so far: that while she recognizes how much she was pandering to the white man, we writers of colour spend way too much of our lives pandering to the white woman. I've mentioned this before, how there is such a thing as "the critically acclaimed story." You see it occasionally in certain highbrow magazines and journals. Astringent, observed, clipped, wallowing in its own middle-style prose and private ennui, porn for certain publications. And I knew from early on how to write the kind of story that would get published. Honestly, had I followed that formula (or style?) if I pandered to a cultural tone set by white women, particular older white female critics, I would have had 10 stories published by now. There's an award that I have been a finalist for, more than once, and in both situations I was the only person who knew that I wouldn't win. I looked at the winner and I look at the judges and both followed exactly the same aesthetic. And looked the same as well. I knew right there, what they were looking for in a book and I knew the winner fulfilled it with flying colours, even if it wasn't that great a book. The last contest I judged, the initial favourite was yet again, "bored suburban white woman in the middle of ennui, experiences keenly observed epiphany." And though we'll never admit it, every writer of colour knows that they stand a higher chance of getting published if they write this kind of story. We just do. Anyway, still reading.

 
 
43 comments
Comments
Robert Garland Wow. It is pretty much the same creating work and working in my field, ballet. White woman basically run things, although top leadership is predominantly male. In spite of this most casting and artistic discussion happens underneath the top layer, which is predominantly white and female. That, by far, is the real accomplishment of Misty Copeland in that environment.
 
Marie Mockett Loathed this essay on my first three passes and was mystified by why it's affecting so many. Still digesting. I mean sure....no to pandering. But so much of this,.. The whining over being pregnant and having nothing...so in relatable.
 
Marguerite Orane I meet them in the dozens in my writing classes
 
Raj A Iype An astringent commentary on the state of affairs Sir.
 
Mark Wisniewski Wow. & as I read this I kept thinking: If he'd posted this before having won the Man Booker, he'd have been committing literary suicide.
 
Court Merrigan Nah. That book stands on its own merits.
 
Swati Khurana The invisible cloak of whiteness allows the writer to not wince while smoking a joint at a hotel pool (acknowledged), and to write things like "Burn the motherfucker down." (unacknowledged) I wouldn't, couldn't, write that because I don't want to get deported and my brother to get on a no-fly list. Thank you, Marlon James for saying things that so many of us can't.
 
Annie Paul saved that essay to read...this discussion makes me want to dive into it immediately smile emoticon
 
Marlon James And as someone occasionally monitored by Dept. Of Homeland Security, I know exactly what you're talking about, Swati Khurana.
 
John Domini Dibs on: "Astringent, observed, clipped, wallowing in its own middle-style prose and private ennui, porn for certain publications."
As for Watkins' essay, certainly Stephen Elliott proved himself nothing less than abhorrent.
 
Annie Paul hmmm can't access it...link doesn't work, tried several times, wonder if the essay was taken down?
 
Porochista Khakpour I tried to address these issues and more in sort of sidebar Twitter essay. It was upsetting for me to read this essay on several levels. All very personal.
 
Porochista Khakpour (^ all personal, and don't know if that's a disclaimer or something I wish I could be proud of. My opinions, my work should matter, I would hope you right? But hard to even digest that. Esp as it got some support but comes in between seemingly endless hate mail about being a brown woman from a Muslim culture who should go back where I came from.)
 
Jana Bent OK so what about finding the backers & launching literary awards that celebrate the content that we want? Uniting and seeking the organizations that have the power to back and promote a literary award that celebrates and reflects our experiences? What's the first step in pulling that together?
 
Kathleen Warnock I know what you mean. In theater, the preponderance of work seen in mainstream houses is by white men; the 27% that's not (there was just an entire issue of The Dramatist that was devoted to a study called the Count that qualified these figures) is by ...See More
 
Annie Paul yup its down. see tweet: Claire Vaye Watkins @clairevaye
.@Tin_House site back soon, I'm sure. Meanwhile, consider subscribing to TH. "On Pandering" is in the current issue + print never crashes.
 
Sabrina McLaughlin "bored suburban white woman in the middle of ennui, experiences keenly observed epiphany." sounds very boring to me. Also happy belated birthday!
 
Robb Forman Dew Your comment is sufficiently insulting and offensive to all women writers--who have a hard enough time as it is--that you need to name the writer or writers, those bored white elderly women, whose writing you think of as "porn for certain magazines." Otherwise you're simply sounding grandiose, whiny, petulant and like you're about fifteen years old.
 
Jon Anderson I am in the process of renewing my acquaintance with American lit, and I have noticed a preponderance of stories that fit this bill: "Astringent, observed, clipped, wallowing in its own middle-style prose and private ennui" -- and, at least when it co...See More
 
Terese Svoboda there aren't a lot of people with courage
 
Julia Brown So grateful for this thread.
 
Ifeona Fulani None of the critique in Watkins' essay is new - it's 80s literary feminist criticism reproduced for a younger generation. But the fact that it's such a revelation to many indicates how little has changed; women are still being trained to read and writ...See More
 
Kaitlyn Greenidge I think the root of it is fear--fear that if you start recognizing stories that don't fit this mold, then how can you tell when anything is actually *good*? It was a shock when I started thinking about publishing what I wrote and realized that there ar...See More
 
Court Merrigan I think the endless and dull stories of the "bored suburban white woman in the middle of ennui, experiences keenly observed epiphany" are the end product of a certain privileged, consumerist culture that has consumed itself into nothing, and now strive...See More
 
Carolyn Kellogg Not all white female critics want to read Marilynne Robinson, Alice Munro et al. Some of us much prefer the work of Marlon James.
 
Rose Bunch It is why you can can read two years worth of the New Yorker and only remember maybe one of the stories a week later.
 
Emma Emma Emma Torzs White women are the next white men frown emoticon
 
Lorraine Adams I don't write like those women. I will never write like those women. And I have never been published in the New Yorker, which champions that vaguely dissatisfied in Connecticut short story. And I don't give a rat's ass.
 
Marie Mockett It is a truth universally acknowledged that an essay like this must use the battle rousing word "fuck" somewhere, preferably toward the end, which this does. What mystifies me is that it does not suggest that people "on the periphery" become powerful t...See More
 
Zoe FitzGerald Carter Not to sound like a bitter white woman, but all the fans of yours I have met Marlon could, roughly speaking, be categorized as "bored, suburban white women." Just sayin.
 
Melissa Chadburn Okay I just read it the whole way through and I will say this: You both have points. I mean I have forever said that Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower blows McCarthy's The Road completely out of the water. I will also say this narrative you speak of "bored suburban white woman in the middle of ennui, experiences keenly observed epiphany" still stints the relationship of women to power, still supports the patriarchy. I think the first gates are guarded by white men—editors, and it's they who choose to saturate the market with these quiet domestic stories. I'm thinking now also of Otessa Moshfegh's craft essay, How To Shit. Where she speaks of the fact that we can write the thing that sells but what about creating that hell raising shit that hammers at our insides. The art? It's a choice we make. Those of us who are bold enough to make it. Thank you for sharing your gifts with us.
 
Marlon James Just in case anybody missed my response to the four accusations levelled above, (insulting, offensive, sexist and racist) here is what I had to say: 

I'm sorry, but I don't think I'm being insulting or offensive or racist at all, and I'm mystified by 
the criticism. Maybe a quick survey of writers of colour would provide some of the revelations that we take for granted, but I'm just relaying conversations I've had countless times with writers of colour and everyone in tune with the narrow opportunities for us in this industry. That includes women, some of them white who know exactly what I'm talking about and fight against it— with even the works they publish from white women. But again I'm puzzled by the accusation of sexism and racism, because by that extension, you are also saying that the 153 women who liked this status and the over two dozen who shared it, also share sexist and racists views. Either that or we all have a warped delusion of the world of letters. You're going to have to tell all 251 of us in total (including quite a few white women) how is it that we are so offensively wrong, but you're right. I also question your use of the royal "all" in your reference to women, which seems like a generalization that other women have not allowed you to make.
 
Marlon James Also just in case we have also missed this, white women have also had to pander to a narrow definition of the white female experience, and the expectation of the white female writer (experiential!!) and they are sick of this shit too.
 
Christine Amor Like many (most?) stereotypes, this one comes to us from the world of marketing. squint emoticon
 
Marlon James I can also guarantee you, Robb that none of the women I know in this thread are the "sycophants," you've called them on yours. Time to re-evaluate sexist.
 
Morowa Yejide Stating the obvious... but thanks.....
 
Robb Forman Dew Who are the women writers you are talking about, Marlon?
 
Jeneille Lewis I would never read those kind of stories...and I'm so thankful that you're not writing them. To this day Marlon...you're the only writer whose books I (1) Pre-order (2) Get in Multiple copies (because friends give friends books) and (3) purchase in hardcover, paperback AND e-book.
 
Marlon James Robb, I honestly don't think you're getting the point, despite me and Anisse explaining it over and over. I'm not attacking any white woman, and certainly not older for that matter since Nadine Gordimer's writing for example, would never have fit that ...See More
 
Anisse Gross Is there an open bar on this thread anywhere? I need a drink.
 
Robb Forman Dew Marlon, I do see that you've always been a champion of women writers, that's why I was so hurt to find myself apparently being attacked because I'm white and elderly. I have had to fight those battles since I was eighteen, simply to be heard at all, an...See More
 
Christine Amor Does anybody else realise that if vacuous drivel was all that got published, we wouldn't be having this conversation? If all publishers, at all times, stuck to the formula, who would have published Marlon's work?
 
Joseph Pravda epiphany101: great writing is unteachable, editors be damned
 

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The idea Marlon's remarks comes as a revelation to anyone, other than perhaps white women is astonishing.  
 

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What you said at the end. Why are people surprised? If the market is shaped by a certain reader, that is the reader that will be catered too. BUTTTTT I think this is just an article to inspire discussion because people read what they like and what they are interested in. It just so happens that there are more old white women reading. 

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I hope I am commenting on what I think I read. Rather tired right now.  While I certainly realize what is happening. After scanning this, I am totally exhausted and could find myself utterly and completely discouraged. I said it once, I will say it again. I am not  going to do it. I am going to write from my heart and soul about those things that impact me, my kind, and my community --be it women, black women, challenged youths, etc. Maybe I will never get published the traditional route, but as I have learned there are other avenues. I am sick of trying to play by their rules. Where is all the fairness? Where are the black publishers, editors, agents, etc.?  We need our own to publish and promote our own. What a stupid question I just asked!!! Yes, people read what they are interested in and reject everything else most likely. That's why many of our people are still experiencing identity crisis. I AM NOT A WHITE WOMAN!!! I can't write from the white experience. I can write about it. There is definitely a difference.

Thanks for allowing me to vent :).

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Marlon James' remarks  certainly resonate with me. I have never become captivated enough to finish any of these acclaimed books written by angst-driven white women in the throes of some personal crisis. One in particular comes to mind was the award winning "The Year of Magical Thinking" by Joan Didion, a book about the period following the death of her beloved husband. It was so boring to me that I never finished it. 

My latest book is a novel about the main character coping with all that comes with the territory of being among the most misunderstood and least appreciated creatures in the pecking orderblack women.  Because sistas are so capable of handling this situation, they don't sweat it; they just roll their eyes at white women stifled by what comes with their esteemed status. In my opinion black women's challenges tend to be more compelling and interesting than those of  hand- wringing white women seeking escape from their frustration. 

When the feminist movement got underway back in the '60s, conspicuously absent among the rank and file were straight black females. Most of them were so tired from the burden of already being liberated women that they were more interested in handing over the reins to black men in the hope that they would step up and cherish and protect their women the same as white men did theirs. Today they are still struggling to gain respect. Poor suburban middleclass white women.  Especially the ones who are driven to write books about their "plights".

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There is an audience for Black stories, from both Black and white readers.  The problem is we are so slavishly devoted to what white people validate, whether it is being selected to be reviewed by the NY Times, published by one of the foreign owned conglomerates, being stocked on the shelves of their stores, or making one of their bestsellers lists.  These folks are in the business of making money, they are going to target the biggest audience--and it ain't us. 

So if we want these types of books to be published we have to support the institutions--everything from the authors to the bookseller.

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It is all about the money that can be made. The color is greeeeeen! I am still sick of it. But Troy, you are absolutely right about us needing validation. :) Why don't we start our own great publishing company. From what I am getting, Y'all already know how. I am only half-joking here!

Authonomy, sponsored by Harper Collins had a great thing going for new authors, but they pulled the site. I sure wish there was something along those lines for more of us trying to break through. It would certainly be a great start.

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The problem isn't starting a publishing company, it's distribution. In order to publish and build up authors, someone has to be willing to sit on thousand of books and then get those books distribution into the mainstream outlets as well as into Ingram so smaller accounts can buy those books. It's really hard to run any company when you sit on inventory, so it's not going to happen. You would need a six figure reserve to just get started. The best we all can do is to support sites like AALBC and to take the time to visit other websites that discuss books, which I can't really think of any right off the top of my head.

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Actually we have Black owned book distributors.  Perhaps one of the most prominent here in the north east is run by Brother Nati, Afrikan World Distributors.  I assume he is still active. There are/were others including A&B and Culture Plus who used to keep the street vendors humming.  But Black book distributors were hurt badly as Black book stores closed and laws for street vending changed.  Indeed, the whole Black book economy was hurt, which is why I devote so much time trying to help readers and authors appreciate this and explain why it matters...

Of course getting Ingram to distribute your books is not nearly as difficult as it once was.  I have an Iplus account and I rarely encounter a book that Ingram does not stock.

Setting up the businesses and getting distribution is not really our problem.  

little-mermaid.jpg.4d9b32b94e1cb671eca2aI know I sound like a broken record here but our problem is lack of support.  We have to break down and support the Black book ecosystem. It means, for example, going out your way to buy an book on a site like Shirley's, paying a premium, and waiting three weeks to get the book. This is the process of investing in the businesses that support you, and our culture.  In time Shirley will improve, but without the support she will never get started.  This same is true for an AALBC.com...

Now if you are happy looking a white mermaids then go to Amazon and by your books there.  You'll get the book tomorrow, it will be shipped for free, and the price of the book itself will certainly be lower.  

Amazon, propped up by Wall Street, can take a loss on books indefinitely.  Black sellers don't don't have this luxury, we have to sell products at a profit otherwise we go out of business.

Worse still most authors will explicitly tell readers to got buy their book at Amazon.  They rarely suggest a Black independent book seller by name.  I've videoed authors, for free, to promote their work and they will say, on camera, "You can buy my book at Amazon.com."  I used to have to remind them that AALBC.com sells books too.

@Shirley Gale, it would be interesting to know how many Black authors were published through Authonomy.  I'd be surprised if it was very many. If you know of any please let me know about them.

 

 

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It's such a double edged sword... I can only compare it to my shoe company since my books aren't very popular. I have had my own site forever. When I list my shoes, as well as my books on my site, I give both options for purchase. I've done this with my books also, and the result is always the same people buy where they have their credit card information already saved. I very rarely make a sale through my own site and I have to assume it's the same for everyone out there. It doesn't matter that the same item is cheaper on my site, it simply doesn't sell through my site.

It's unfortunate because whether a Black biz sales for a profit or not, odds are they will go out of business because convenience rules. As much as I want to support a bookstore, I also value my time and waiting is something that I'd rather not do, so I take a real effort to visit Black shops in Memphis and write reviews about them in order to help give them a bigger platform. All businesses are built on speed and convenience and I don't know if asking people to take the time to help build a business is even worth it. (It is, but I'm just at a loss for how to make it better.) I do know this, I do a lot of shipping. A person with an account can get a book from NYC to Cali in 3 days. They may take a bit of an L in doing so, but faster shipping is the only way a Black distributor/bookstore will grow. They can't use media mail which takes 1-3 weeks. People just don't like waiting and honestly you can't ask them too.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I'd love to be given a consultation on how to increase sales and help a Black distributor/bookstore improve. I know you have tons of articles, but maybe Troy you need to provide an Olivia Pope Fixer type package where you analyze my book biz and tell me how to make it better. I'd pay for that... depending on the price, lol.

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Hello Everyone,

Like I said, I was half-joking and half-hoping. I know it would take mega bucks for the miracle that I speak of to take place for us. Anyway, moving on, I have changed my shipping. I only had it set that way because it took time to order the few books that I needed from Archway. Also, my shipping is based on weight. For my books and t-shirts it is $4.50 to ship. The cost goes up for the mermaid wall dolls because they are heavier and fragile. By the way, I have gone up and down Galveston Beach to check out their mermaid figurines and there wasn't a single pretty Black mermaid doll, painting, or sculpture no where to be found. Galveston Island/beach is surrounded by poor Black folks. But you hardly see any of us on the beach walking around. I was totally amazed by the poverty that is found only a hop, skip, and a jump from the tourist parts of the beach. When I went there to pass out business cards and talk about my book, I was floored by the lack of us!!!

About my website, with my book ad on aalbc.com and NAPW, my visits went up quite a bit in the last few days. However, I am only getting window shoppers. My goal is to figure out how to get my visitors to make a purchase. I cannot lower the price of my book anymore without practically giving it away. I cannot and will not turn my mermaids white. So who knows what will happen for me. I will have to find my target audience somehow. They are out there somewhere. Virginia Beach, for example, is famous for mermaids--that's why I love my home so much. I was raised seeing mermaids--of course they were white.

Also, Authonomy is down. By the time, I placed my manuscript on the site, two days later, everyone received notice that Harper Collins was discontinuing the service. Troy, I don't have any stats on the number of Blacks that actually had an opportunity to get their books reviewed by the editors and accepted by Harper Collins. I am sure that, like everything else, there were disappointingly few.

Finally, I want to say that I go out of my way to support my people as much as I can--especially when it comes to our children. I do not understand why we don't support one another more. Our dollars run out of our communities as fast as we can get our paychecks.

I really must move on from this because this is really disheartening. As a true believer in God, I just keep on doing what I am lead to do. Right now that mission is to keep writing and pushing to see how far I get.  Again, thanks to all of you, Troy, Chris, and Cynique, on aalbc for your kind enthusiasm and support. I truly appreciate this site and believe me, I am always telling people about it.

Troy,  I am noticing that when I post, sometimes my post will not fall in order of first to last. It has done this twice. Could I be doing something wrong?

Thanks

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Funny I drove to Galveston beach once and it would have never occurred to me that it was a Black neighborhood.  What was most striking was the flood damage which seemingly escaped media attention.  

Shirley what is NAPW?  I would like to check out the site and the treatment of your advertisement. 

Besides sales keep in mind you advertise for branding.  So that people know your product.  Someone may by your product next year, because they keep seeing your ad and they need to buy some Black mermaid stuff for Xmas.

As far as converting visitors. Set up a focus group.  Get a few folks to visit your website and ask them if they would buy your product and and what the experience was like.  Ideally find someone who would be interested in the product.  Try to address any issues they have to improve the purchasing experience.

Consider Google analytics, you can see how many people came to your site and which page they visited next.  That would tell you where you problems are.  If they are not going to the buy page after visiting your homepage page.  One thing you definitely need is a call to action.  A "buy" button or something that says this is how you buy the book.  Right now you have to hunt around for make the purchase.

 

 

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Thanks for the advice Troy. I will look into the buy button. I have gone to Google analytics. I didn't know exactly what I was looking at. I will go back to it to hopefully gain a better understanding. 

About Galveston: when the storm hit Galveston Island, it almost equated to what happened to the poor people caught up in hurricane Katrina. It is just a matter of time before this plush area that I speak of will be vacated by the poor and developers move in. That's just my thoughts. The cruise ship industry is right there. The beach is right there for the tourists, but so too are the poor non-contributors. If I had the capital, I would love to buy some of the property. I had even thought about putting a bookstore in Galveston on one of those side streets where no one seems to care about.  But then I thought, who would come to purchase the books??? There are a lot of abandoned houses and buildings--prime property for future development investment. In about 5 to 10 years, I believe that Galveston is going to take on a serious change in those poor areas. I would love to see future planning and development.  But my home is not in Texas and I don't even know where my husband will take us in the next few years. Hopefully in the direction of Virginia. :)

In terms of my books, I have some serious marketing strategies planned. I am one to think outside of the box and I think I have some good stuff in the works. I will keep you posted as I move along. It has only been a year since putting my book out there. I have to remind myself that it takes time. I know at my age, time is at a premium.

About the NAPW. It is huge organization for women. It stands for National Association of Professional Women. We just had an awesome conference call with the Houston Chapter President to see how they can help us more in our business endeavors. By all means look them up and let me know what you discover. As always thanks for the advice.

 

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I like the NAPW's site Shirley.  Can you email me a link that shows you book's cover.

If you like, you can give me access to you Google Analytics account that will give me the ability to directly compare performance of both ads.  This will also be useful for me to have another data point to compare the effectiveness of my advertisements as well.

Just go to the Admin section, click user management, then add my email address troy@aalbc.com

 

 

 

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Hi Troy,

Yes, it is a good site with lots of benefits for the members. Here is the link: http://www.napw.com/authors/search?category=children%27s+books&commit=&keywords=&page=2&utf8=%E2%9C%93

I will get the Google Analytics to you soon. I am not so familiar with it and I need to find it in my brain first. I have only played around on it once or twice.

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@Sara, Can you site me a source that says in the 1990's that Black women purchased 50% of all the books sold in the United States.  I'll go out on a limb here, and say that can't possibly be true.  So please site a source to support that statement.

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Well that is a very interesting conversation @Sara.  Is the forum still active? 

I see rather than "50% of all books sold in the U.S.," the assertion is 50% of all romance books.  This is a very different statement.  I doubt this is true too, but I don't follow the genre.  But there may be data to support his.  I used to get reports every year, commissioned by PW, which broke down books sales by demographics, format and genre,  I'll have to see if I can find one.

In the meantime, the whole Black romance genre, for the most part, was kicked off by Kensington (who was mentioned above). I interviewed Walter Zacharias, the founder of Kensington, a few years ago. Both Walter and author Gwynne Forster, who also appears in the video,. are no longer with us.  They were both fine people, and lived brilliant lives.

 

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@Sara, You made a statement that Black women buy 50% of all books sold.  I should have made my reply much clearer by saying that statement was wrong and reveals a complete ignorance of the industry.  No data is needed, as it is absurd on it's face.  Instead, I asked you to cite a source hoping you would discover the error on your own.  

However you comeback, not with a source to cite your ridiculous assertion, but comments with the comments from other people with limited or partial knowledge of the subject.  Indeed nothing to support your original statement.

However you demand facts from me.  I told you I have the data, but it would take me some time to find the book.  This information is not freely available on the web, those in the industry pay for it.

But I posted a video, which you apparently did not listen to, or understand, featuring the founder of Kensington Books, talking about many of the points you raised. Instead you cite racism in this case, without even knowing what the hell you are talking about.  

In the white racist environment that is New York publishing Kensington Books is one of the least racist of the larger publishers--certainly during the time when Walter was at the helm.  

I seriously doubt you are actually interested in facts, given what you have written and your reaction thus far.  So go ahead and keep believing that,

"...in the '90's, African-American women purchased close to 50% of all books sold in the U.S. That's right. 6% of the population bought (not "avid readers" or "went to the library," but put out cold, hard cash!) 1/2 of all new titles sold in the U.S."

However if you make outrageous statements like this here; expect them to be challenged. You can call it throwing mud, or whatever makes you feel better.. 

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Sara, I can see that numbers, percentages and the like confuse you.  If I thought it would make a difference, I would explain to you how the reasoning and math you used to arrive at the conclusion that, “50% of books bought in the 1990's were bought by black PEOPLE."”is terribly is flawed.  

With the reasoning and logic you presented here I don't see how even presenting you with additional information would help you understand something that should be obvious. I give up.

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For both of you to look at, this is only sales chart for a particular year. This was a pivotal year because it's when Borders declared bankruptcy: http://www.fonerbooks.com/booksale.htm I present this because it shows the sheer volume of books sold and if Blacks at one time made up a larger part of this market the book stores would have relfected this. Now Sara states that Blacks were reading all books to counter the idea that the Black book section was never more than 2 rows in large bookstores. There were however more indie book stores.

The next link is the chart for general readers broken down by education and class from 2012 (Now your discussion is based on the 90s. Numbers and statistics are pretty firm for every decade and there is never a seismic shift that makes one time period jump considerably. The natural progression for growth or decrease is always about 1% per year in the negative or positive. If you look at this chart and apply the 1%+-, Blacks would still not make up the majority of the readership in America simply because the amount of Blacks in America is a 1/6 of that of Whites (Whites are 75% and Blacks are 12%). This is just logic and not based on fact. It would be very hard to discover the actual facts from the 90s via the internet and it would have to come from an industry book, but here is the chart: http://libraries.pewinternet.org/2012/04/04/part-2-the-general-reading-habits-of-americans/

Troy's point is valid based purely on numbers and the breakdown of the country... but Sara's assertion has legitimacy and can be argued if there is real documentation because in this Pew document it states, " Additionally, blacks (42%) are more likely than whites (34%) to read daily or almost daily for work or educational purposes" Which stands to reason that Blacks indeed read more than Whites and if you skew these numbers for growth over the last 20 years with the boom of Sista Lit in the 90s you would possibly have about 50% to 38% rate, but even then based on the numbers of Whites in the US this would mean that Blacks were consuming 6 times as many books as Whites and that just isn't logical, but like I said it can't be verified because neither of you are willing to dig in for the stats to back up what you say. Based on logic and common sense, it is almost impossible to look at numbers from 2012 and say that those numbers could be completely inverse for the 90s.

As a final insertion (yep I said insertion because I just put myself into this discussion, lol) logically if we look at the height of the Sista Girl Lit movement in the 90s none of the books show up on the top books of 1995 (random year in the middle of the decade). http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/life/enter/books/leb182.htm While Sara makes the argument that blacks were reading more books in a variety of genres, this book list can't be deciphered by race, but if Blacks were reading there would be an appearance of a book like Waiting to Exhale on this list simply because a movie almost guarantees a book a second life. The book was published in 1992, but there were a host of books released that year.

Anyway, I know how futile it is to ask for facts, but I thought for anyone dropping in to this they might want to see stats and make up their own conclusion.

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As somebody just dropping in, I personally find all this extrapolation of figures boring, especially since it's common knowledge that statistics can be manipulated to represent  a desired result. I'm curious about the name of Sara's white-anointed book gathering dust on library shelves all over the globe, the publication she keeps crowing about in between touting her friendship with oodles of black female authors. Watta resume! And I can just picture  a self-help book  about a subject on which she is a foremost authority, its title emblazoned across the cover.  DUPLICITY FOR DUMMIES

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

 

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Well Chris, as bookseller, I have a close enough feel for the industry to say for certain that Black women did not by 50% of the books sold in America in any year.  I don't need to see the numbers, as you indicated it is illogical.

No I don't doubt for a split second that Black women buy more novel than Black men, however compared to the rest of the popular they are in the minority as a demographic.  I've been following the Pew data of the last year fews years.

By the way, no one has firm numbers of the racial demographics of book buyers.  It is not as if K-mart collects the information at the register.  The information is collected through a variety of means, including surveys, and to Cynique's point, about data, we all know how problematic surveys can be.

Cynique, people can present numbers is a misleading way, or they misinterpret what the numbers mean, but at some point if the information is scrutinized the attempt to mislead can be revealed. Also If I wrote Black teenage boys purchased 25% of all romance novels in 2015, anyone familiar with books would know that is a ridiculous statement--data would be unnecessary. It is like saying Black people do not read.

Finally I wish Black women did buy 50% of all the book sold.  I'm sure the entire Black Book Ecosystem would be fairing much better than it is today.  

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@Sara you are obviously keen on promoting positive Black accomplishments, as I am.  However you are misinterpreting information.  

Black women are not "the biggest demographic in both race and gender of college students."  Again given that Black women make up roughly 6% of the population that should be obvious.  

What is true is that if one looks at the percentage of students within a given race/gender combination, Black women have the highest percentage of students enrolling in college.  In other words, a higher percentage of Black women go to college than any demographic.  This is a very different statement that what you wrote.  Do you see the difference?  Pew summarized this information, but you can download the raw data from for 2014 from the census bureau and crunch the numbers.

It is also worth looking at graduation rates in context: Black people still lag all other groups in graduation as a percentage of population. In other words were are 13% of the population but make up roughly 9% of the college graduates.  

Numbers are only a portion of the story.  So while the data show a relatively high percentage of us go to college, it also shows that a higher percentage of us fail to graduate.  Digging deeper, on relative basis how do we compare in terms of; quality of our education (caliber of school, GPA); debt we graduate with; and employment outcomes (time to find a job and salary); after our graduation?  This is the stuff that matters. 

So while some are doing a happy dance with this data, they are also oblivious to some very profound problems.  

 

 

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I'm sorry @Sara, but you are indeed misinterpreting the information.  

Let's try a more Socratic approach:

Sara, you presented the following percentages which, according to you, is a breakdown of the percentage of students enrolled in college.  Again, you are asserting that Black women, at nearly 9%, make up the largest race/gender demographic in college enrollment..

Black female 8.7%
Asian female 8.6
White female 7.1
Black male  7.0
Hispanic female 6.6
White male 6.1
Hispanic male 5.9

Now if you add these percentages up we get a total of 50%  Please tell me what demographic makes up the remaining 50% of the students enrolled in college?  

 

 

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Presumably these "voodoo" calculations have been around a while but obviously have had no great impact on the status of black women, probably because the reasoning is too specious, and Society-at-large  couldn't care less about this "information".  Whatever. Hopefully all these black female college attendees whom Sara insists are in the majority, are not educated fools like she is. Where did this Wacko come from and where did she get the idea that posters on this site would benefit from her presence?   Does RAID work on gnats???:o  

OK, Sara.  Trot out your favorite quote and try not to choke on the baloney that's your favorite snack.  :P:lol:

 

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OK Sara you obviously ignored my very simple question about the percentages you provided, because you don't have answer.  Indeed there is no logical answer, because what you wrote makes no sense.  

I was hoping my question would help you see the problem with your conclusion, but I overestimated your reasoning ability.  

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You can call your obstinacy in the face of the obvious a "realm of ideas" if you want to.  More like the "sound and fury of an idiot saying nothing". :wacko: ( "Name-calling"? Yes.  "Mud slinging"? No.The Bard 's prose is language at its best.) -_-

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