Not too long ago, in a land not too far away, Australian author Justine Larbalestier’s forthcoming book about an African-American teen with a penchant for lying was whitewashed by her American publisher Bloomsbury. A situation easily imaginable in the now-unthinkable era of segregated sock hops and bus rides, Larbalestier’s book is due out next month. So, why is it that in an America rife with scandalous “reverse-racism” allegations aimed at our own black president publishers still feel the need to whitewash the covers of our books?
In a blog post about the cover controversy, Larbalestier discussed the feeling amongst publishers and reps that black covers don’t sell as well as white ones, regardless of the content of their pages. A sentiment once solidly backed by sales figures, many of todays top grossing musical artists and actors are African American — Can print media really be that far behind the times or are whitewashed book covers fulfilling their publishers’ own prophesies?
Luckily for Liar, Bloomsbury and Larbalestier have reached a compromise on the cover front. Although thousands of advanced reading copies have already gone out with the original cover, future readers will see the book’s protagonist, Micah, closer to the way Larbalestier intended.