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


  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 -

  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?

  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: :o(

    Anyone else know an email address?

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

  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 :)

  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.

  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.

  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).

  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?

  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.

  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."


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Ako'y Isang Mabuting Pilipino (I Am A Good Filipino) by Noel Cabangon and Jomike Tejido

This one is a real crowd pleaser: Ako'y Isang Mabuting Pilipino , Lampara Books ' 2012 picture book adaptation of Noel Cabangon 's song, with Cabangon's original Filipino lyrics, functional English translations by Becky Bravo , and illustrations by Jomike Tejido ! Cabangon's inspiring lyrics remind children of the ways they can be good Filipinos, such as doing their best in school and obeying their parents. There are plenty of reminders for adults too, such as following traffic rules and not selling their votes during elections. Tejido's illustrations are warm and wholesome, acrylic paintings on hand-woven mats that depict different ways to be good citizens.    You just can't go wrong with Ako'y Isang Mabuting Pilipino ! Children and adults will understand and appreciate the lyrics and paintings. The chords of the song are provided, so music lovers can play and sing along. There are notes and guide questions for educators. There is even

Author Interview: Edna Cabcabin Moran

This was originally posted at Into the Wardrobe on May 28, 2009. Today, I am SO PROUD to present my interview with Filipino American author illustrator Edna Cabcabin Moran . *bursts with pride* Welcome, Edna!! Author/Illustrator, Edna Cabcabin Moran. Photo by Mark Moran. Can you tell us a bit about your Asian American heritage? My parents are from Eastern Samar, Philippines, an historic island in the Visayan island chain. My father was a U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer who brought my mom and older siblings to this country. I am the first American-born child in the family. Growing up, I always felt like I straddled two cultures. I'm very American in the way I dress, speak and carry myself. I don't know Tagalog and I lost touch with my parent's dialect, Waray Waray. However, I have strong cultural roots and have retained much of my Filipino-ness which includes a deep, abiding respect for the elders and their stories. Perhaps the family meal is a good indicator of how one is ra

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

There is a barren mountain aptly called Fruitless Mountain, and by it lies the dark Jade River. In the shadow of the mountain is a poor village where everything is the dull color of mud. In this village live Ba and Ma and their quick-thinking daughter Minli. Ba, Ma, and Minli work hard in the fields every day, yet they only have plain rice to eat for their meals. Ma sighs with discontentment all the time. Minli looks at her weary father, her dissatisfied mother, and her desolate village and wishes she knew how she could change their fortune. Ba has told Minli wonderful stories about the Never-Ending Mountain and the Old Man of the Moon who knows the answer to all important questions, for he alone holds and reads the Book of Fortune. Minli decides to find the Never-Ending Mountain and climb up to the moon so that she can ask the Old Man how she can change her family's fortune. And so begins Minli's journey. Along the way, she makes many new friends, including a dragon, a buffa