Has the DEI Backlash Come for Publishing?

Has the DEI Backlash Come for Publishing?

Dan Sinykin and Richard Jean So have some fascinating data in The Atlantic. In looking at the racial breakdown of more than 1700 novels published by major publishers in the last five years (2019 – 2023), Sinykin and So found that the percentage by nonwhite writers doubled, from a meager 8% in 2019 to a better, though still well short of U.S. demographics, 16% in 2023. This is tremendous progress and, anecdotally, feels about right. The framing of the piece is in the context of Lisa Lucas’ firing from Pantheon, which is both relevant as the sharp rise roughly corresponds with the environment Lucas was hired in. And they are right, as is anyone, to mention that there is still work to be done. However, the scale of the increase makes me wonder if we are over-indexing on one or two notable, public names rather than the hundreds and hundreds of books by writers of color that just weren’t being published in the last five years. Do the firing of these editors portend a stagnation, or worse a regression, in these numbers? It’s possible. It is also possible that things really are different now, even as they should be more different still. I look forward to seeing these numbers again in five years…and that the pie is even more equitably sliced then.

My Kindle thinks I’m stupid now

I have been pretty light on “AI is the devil” takes. And I plan to remain so. I am, however, long on “AI makes making garbage WAY to easy” stock and this lengthy, head-scratching account of a bunch of truly mind-meltingly terrible LLM-generated books being served to a reader’s Kindle lock screen only makes me want to buy more. Unless of course Using Mindreading for Good: Cute Fairy Tale Bedtime Story for Kids turns out to be modern classic.

Macmillan to Launch Saturday Books, a New Adult Imprint

I love the smell of a new imprint in the morning. It is a bit difficult to write about a new “New Adult” imprint. The only thing more difficult is explaining what New Adult is. Here is what Saturday Books says it is: a “YA-adjacent category as specializing in books for younger adults or 18–30-year-old readers just entering adulthood who still enjoy YA.” That is it is described mostly as “YA-adjacent” rather than “Adult adjacent” is, and has been, telling. New Adult is less a YA/Adult hybrid than it is YA+, at least in terms of tone and subject matter. I’ve always thought of it as a pretty awkward time and a pretty awkward marketing pitch for the category, though I think the books themselves tend to make sense.

9 Unputdownable Books that Will Grip You Till the Last Page

You can’t look up at the beach. You forget you are on a plane. You are now sunburned by the side of the pool because you didn’t want to get up and slather on more sunscreen. You are reading an unputdownable book, which is one of the great reading experiences. If you like this feeling, check out this list.


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