Skip to main content

Dear Greenwillow Books

Dear Greenwillow Books,

I understand that you are worried about the sales of Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon and the potential sales of its sequel, Fury of the Phoenix. Oh, I know that you are not worried that Asian-inspired YA fantasy will not sell. If that was your worry, then you would never have chosen to publish Silver Phoenix and Fury of the Phoenix in the first place.

The hardcover edition of Silver Phoenix has an Asian model on the cover. The paperback edition of Silver Phoenix and the hardcover edition of Fury of the Phoenix both use a Caucasian model on the cover. I take that to mean that you are worried that American readers will not buy books with Asians on the cover.




Whitewashing a book cover does injustice to the book because it misrepresents the book and misleads readers. Moreover, there is racism at work in the whitewashing of book covers because of the underlying assumption that Asian faces are "not good enough" to sell books, or that Asian faces will somehow "turn off" non-Asian readers and keep them from buying the book.

Honestly? Those assumptions HURT.

Here's an idea, Greenwillow: Worried about the sales of an Asian-inspired YA fantasy novel? Next time try to refrain from whitewashing the book cover, which is morally wrong. Try selling more copies of the book (with an Asian model on the cover of course, or no model on the cover at all) in Asia. There are ONE BILLION children and teenagers in Asia. Worried about having to translate the book? There's no need to worry! There are MILLIONS of Asian children and teenagers who speak, read, and write in English. And try selling more copies of the book to the millions of people who are part of the Asian diaspora all over the world.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Off to buy multiple copies of the hardcover edition of Silver Phoenix,

Tarie Sabido

Comments

  1. Tarie, would you be okay with the paperback, if models weren't used?

    There were so many other ways to go with the cover.

    Do check out Roger Ebert's review of The Last Airbender. I think it will make you feel better -

    http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100630/REVIEWS/100639999

    ReplyDelete
  2. This pisses me off too, I'm tired of publishing deciding for me what I might buy. I've been waiting for the paperback of Silver Phoenix to come out ($$) but I was first drawn to the book because of the cover, then by the reviews.

    As a mixed race caucastion/spanish person - let ME decided what I'll by, and give ME the chance to buy books with POC covers.

    BTW do you have an e-mail address of the publisher to send complaints too?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Doret, yes, I would buy a paperback edition with no models at all. And I loved the review from Roger Ebert. I feel vindicated.

    Mardel, I only have this: feedback2@harpercollins.com. :o(

    Anyone else know an email address?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Well, maybe we could at least let our irritation and disappointment known. Thanks for the address.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wonderful letter Tarie, I'll link to it! You're absolutely right, Silver Phoenix is selling in Indonesia but that's the only Asian country. I think international publishers need to see first that a book does well in the U.S. before they take it, which isn't the greatest of standards to have. Awesome, awesome letter. Thank you for sharing it :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Silver Phoenix is also selling in the Philippines, and I am pretty sure it is selling in Singapore and Malaysia and other Asian countries as well. Asian countries import books from the U.S. and the U.K. ALL THE TIME. Also, Amazon and other online bookstores deliver to Asian countries. The problem is that the American and British publishers do not spend any money to promote the books in Asia.

    ReplyDelete
  7. ooo I see. Grrrr. I only thought it was selling in Indonesia because it has a different cover, so they use the same cover in the U.S. as they do in the Philippines, Singapore, Malyasia, etc?

    It seems like such an obvious idea, if you don't think white readers will like the book, sell it to non white readers.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yes, same cover. :o) Same cover/edition means that the book was imported. The cover in Indonesia is different because they bought the rights to the book and probably translated it and then published it (the book was not imported).

    ReplyDelete
  9. Yes Tarie, those caucasians have always been and are still very prejudicial to people who don't look like them. When will they understand that they now are minorities even in their own countries?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi, Tarie. Even though the new graphics remind me of Kelley Armstrong's covers--with the eyes cut off or obscured--this unsettled me because it gave me the impression that booksellers and publishers want to hide the MC's ethnicity. The difference between the new and original cover is jarring, and I prefer the original. The new ones look like generic paranormal covers.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Medeia. You are absolutely right; they are hiding the MC's ethnicity. And why are they doing that? This points to their idea that Asian faces do not "sell."

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Fusion Story: The Year of the Rat by Grace Lin

This was originally posted at Into the Wardrobe on May 3, 2008.

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. I want to honor it by celebrating all things Asian American and by reading Asian American children's and young adult literature - particularly Fusion Stories.

The Year of the Rat, a semi-autobiographical novel written and illustrated by Grace Lin, follows a year (one Chinese New Year to the next) in the life of Pacy, a young Taiwanese American. The Year of the Rat is the first year of the Chinese twelve-year cycle and therefore it symbolizes new beginnings. The Year of the Rat is the time to make a fresh start and to change things. And Pacy does experience important changes during the Year of the Rat: her best friend Melody moves away, there's a new boy who is the only other Asian in her elementary school (aside from her sister Ki-Ki), her favorite cousin Clifford gets married, and she starts doubting her dream to become a writer and illustrator. Pacy does not like mos…

See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng

See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng (Dial Books for Young Readers, 2017)

"My name is Alex Petroski and my house is in Rockview, Colorado, United States of America, planet Earth. I am eleven years and eight months old . . ."
Filipino American Alex Petroski LOVES astronomy. His hero is Carl Sagan, the astronomer who sent a "Golden Record" out into space. In 1977, NASA launched Voyager 1 and Voyager 2. In case the spacecraft ever made contact with extraterrestrial life forms, or future humans, each had on board a "Golden Record," a copper phonograph LP featuring a collection of sounds and images meant to portray the life and culture on planet Earth. The recorded sounds included things like wind, thunder, bird songs, greetings in 55 languages, and the brainwaves of a woman in love. (You can actually listen to the audio of the Golden Record here.)
Alex has built his very own rocket, Voyager 3, and plans to launch it into space at SHARF (Southwest High-Altitude…

Author Interview: Neesha Meminger

Watch the book trailer for Shine, Coconut Moon by Neesha Meminger:



Author Neesha Meminger's debut work is Shine, Coconut Moon, an important and interesting young adult novel about the many complexities of family, identity, and living between two cultures.

I've asked Neesha some questions to get to know more about her and her work. Thank you, Neesha, for answering my questions. And thank you very much for Shine, Coconut Moon - my wonderful gateway to learning about Indians, Indian Americans, and Sikhism!


Can you please tell us a bit about your South Asian heritage?

I was born in Punjab, India and we moved to Canada when I was five. I have been in the west since. My parents didn't speak a word of English, so we spoke only Punjabi at home, and only English at school. I think it took me a while to figure out both, but it's where my fascination with the rhythms of language, the importance of word choice, and the power of the word took root.

Growing up, were you more like your S…