After we released our study that investigates readers' experiences with, and interest in, reading diverse books, Demand for Diversity: A Survey of Canadian Readers, we heard that First Book Canada wanted to add their voice to the conversation, specifically about kids and their need for and access to diverse books.
We thought it was a great idea to put together a round-up of more diversity-related initiatives and information from across the industry. Thanks to First Book Canada for suggesting this continuation of the conversation.
Diversity-related content from the Canadian book publishing industry
First Book Canada, Kids Deserve Diverse Books:
"BookNet Canada recently released 'Demand for Diversity: A Survey of Canadian Readers' where 58% of the 500 respondents agreed that 'they (and others) would benefit from more diverse books.' At First Book Canada, we have been hearing this demand for more diverse books from our network of educators for years. They want books that reflect the lived experiences of the kids they serve, and help their kids by seeing a character like themselves overcome challenges, aspire, and succeed."
Association of Canadian Publishers, 2018 Canadian Book Publishing Diversity Baseline Survey Report:
"In recognition of the under-representation of Indigenous and racialized peoples in the Canadian publishing industry, the ACP’s Diversity and Inclusion Working Group conducted a baseline survey to gather information on the composition of Canadian publishing workplaces. The survey establishes a baseline of the Canadian publishing industry and aims to identify challenges and opportunities with respect to building diverse and inclusive workplaces."
Kate Edwards, the Executive Director of the Association of Canadian Publishers, came to Tech Forum 2019 to share some results from the survey. You can watch her talk here:
BookNet Canada, Diversity in your data:
"Diversity, it may surprise you, isn’t described in a single [subject] code and instead should be found, unlabeled, in existing subjects." An in-depth look at diversity Thema codes and keywords, by BookNet Canada Bibliographic Manager Tom Richardson.
Tech Forum 2019:
Tech Forum, Canada's largest book publishing conference, had many sessions pertaining to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the publishing industry. Here are some videos of those sessions:
Léonicka Valcius, Chair, Festival of Literary Diversity, Annie Gibson, Publisher, Playwrights Canada Press, Scaachi Koul, Senior Writer, Buzzfeed, and Bhavna Chauhan, Senior Editor, Penguin Random House Canada, discuss how the "gatekeeping" framework of our industry is a major structural hurdle to diversity and inclusion in publishing. They said it's not enough to recognize our biases and stop doing harm (though that's a key first step), but that we need to brainstorm ways to repair the historical damage done to our cultural institutions and artists. How do we shift from "gatekeeping" and towards what attendees of SFU's 2018 Publishing Unbound conference called "spacemaking": a process that solicits, supports, and develops the work of marginalized writers and professionals? In this action-focused session, a team of industry professionals led attendees in a collaborative, generative process to develop a "Best Practices" guidelines for industry adoption that will be released later in 2019.
Chris Saynor, Standards Editor at EDItEUR, shares how Thema, the subject category scheme for the global book trade, can be used to help identify and improve the discoverability of titles suitable for a more diverse and inclusive audience. He also talks about EDItX reports and transactional standards that are being updated for the digital age and to harmonize with ONIX 3.0 for the benefit of the book supply chain.
In this session, Ashleigh Gardner, Deputy General Manager, Wattpad Studios, Publishing, explores how new technologies — such as machine learning — are creating new opportunities to discover and publish marginalized voices. Looking at Wattpad’s own Story DNA machine-learning technology, this session highlights opportunities for publishers to diversify their slates while uncovering exciting new writers. The session also examines real-life case studies from Wattpad, showcasing recently-discovered voices that the company has identified among the millions on the platform.
Jennifer Baker of the Minorities in Publishing podcast interviews Jael Richardson, author, columnist, and founder of the Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD), on craft, publishing, and formulating equity within the literary community. (If you'd rather listen to this on the go, or read a transcript of this conversation, we've got you covered.)
Diversity-related content from the international book publishing industry
School Library Journal, Can Diverse Books Save Us? In a divided world, librarians are on a mission:
"[The] research, fielded in April 2018, revealed that the majority of librarians, 81 percent, consider it “very important” to have a diverse book collection for kids and teens. (Diverse collections, in this context, were defined as books with protagonists and experiences that feature underrepresented ethnicities, disabilities, cultural or religious backgrounds, gender nonconformity, or LGBTQIA+ orientations.)"
"The RITA Award, the top honor for romance writers awarded by the Romance Writers of America, was awarded this week, and the organization acknowledged that in its 36-year history, no black author has ever won the prize. According to the RWA's own research, black authors have written less than half of 1 percent of the total number of books considered as prize finalists."
Bronwen Fleetwood, 20 Years of RITA data:
Novelist Bronwen Fleetwood dissects 20 years of data about the Romance Writers of America's RITA award and its lack of diversity.
"This working paper releases a study of UK Authors’ Earnings and Contracts based on a large scale survey of 50,000 authors conducted in 2018.... This series of surveys offers one of the first opportunities to assess robustly the effects of digital changes on the labour market and working conditions of a specific professional sector."
"In a survey of 1,167 people, many respondents described feeling alien in the publishing trade, with their education and financial background meaning that they have struggled to secure internships, live in London, embrace the networking culture and progress through the industry."
Do you have more suggestions for further reading on the issue of diversity and inclusion in book publishing? Add them to the comments below, we'd love to read them. We hope this has inspired you to keep the conversation going, too!