Hype for Cindy Pon’s Silver Phoenix reached the point that I was even hearing about its awesomness on blogs that don’t typically talk about books. I was excited to get my hands on a copy, and had it added to my Amazon.ca wishlist.
So colour me surprised to find out that the hardcover edition didn’t sell well at all.
Colour me even more surprised that the publisher’s reaction to this was to, in essence, remove all colour from the book’s cover image.
Compare the hardcover copy:
… to the cover for the paperback version:
Yup, the Chinese girl magically becomes a white girl. In an attempt, I guess, to make the main character more appealing to the intended market.
The intended market, apparently, consisting of nothing but white girls who don’t know that the world actually consists of many people who are not caucasian. Imagine that!
I dunno. When I look at the paperback cover, my thought is, “Oh look, another teen paranormal novel, just like the hundreds of others out there. I’ll pass. I have so many books to read as it is.” When I see the hardcover, my thought is, “Ooh, shiny! I wonder what that book’s about! I hope I can hurry some books off my To Read pile so that I can get to this one quickly, because it looks really cool.”
I showed the two different covers to my roommate, who shared my thoughts, and commented too that the style of the paperback image echoed the covers of Kelley Armstrong’s Darkest Powers series. Like Silver Phoenix needs not only a change of race, but also to piggyback on the success of other authors in order to get people to read it.
But I guess avid readers who enjoy diversity aren’t the people who ought to be reading this book, if what the publishers and booksellers are telling us is accurate.
Babbling about Books did a great write-up of this, complete with info on how Borders refused to stock copies and only some Barnes & Noble stores carried a few copies on their shelves. The overall message is that nobody wants to read about people from different countries who have different skin tones. That there’s no market for diversity.
Which, if you’ll pardon my language, is a steaming pile of bullshit.