Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Tuesday Midday Links: Coming Soon Catalogs

I am trying to create a new way to bring the upcoming new releases (searchable/sortable table) for easy browsing. With the release of the new Calibre OPDS from David Pierron, I’ve put together this wonderful cover collection of releases, sorted by month. I used the tag feature to = month. Feel free to click around, though, because you can browse by author and title as well.

We also have updated lists from Harlequin’s backlist titles and Avon’s digital efforts as well and the entire Sourcebooks 2010 list. Keep checking back. I update these lists about every two weeks.

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From Reader Kay is an article in the Wall Street Journal about the 50 covers that were created for Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The designer of the cover had no formal graphic design experience:

Mr. Mendelsund, age 42, graduated from Columbia University in 1990 with a degree in philosophy and worked as a professional musician for more than a decade before embarking on a design career. With no formal graphic design experience, he began drafting CD album covers for an indie label.

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On the issue of covers and “otherness” is the passing of Cindy Pon’s book, Silver Phoenix. (reviewed here by Jia). The major YA book buyers passed on this book meaning that it wasn’t on the major brick and mortar retailer shelves. The unsaid reasoning here is that books with Asians on the cover won’t sell. Thus the cover for Cindy Pon’s next book is this:

Fury of the Phoenix

It’s sad that bookstores continue to perpetuate institutional racism by segregating books and passing books based on the color of the person on the cover. Amy of My Friend Amy, penned an open letter to Borders and BN. Call me cynical, but I doubt anything is going to change.

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Which is why Julie Ortolon’s post yesterday has so much meaning. The post entitled “Readers are the big winners in the ebook revolution” highlights how books of diversity can be successful.

The economics behind that are complicated. Suffice it to say, publishers aren't willing to take a chance on a novel unless they think they can sell tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of copies. That's why Western romance, and many other sub-genres have vanished from the shelves. The audience isn't big enough to make it profitable for a major publisher to put those books out in print -’ no matter how wonderfully written they are, or how much the devoted fans want them.

Once again, good news. It is profitable enough for an individual author to re-publish or self publish romance novels for these niche markets.

Now, I don’t think that books about Asian girls are necessarily a niche book, but I do think that the more that we can remove the gatekeepers who are used to making race based decisions, the better we are as readers.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

18 Comments

  1. Elyssa Papa
    Jul 20, 2010 @ 11:22:41

    I love the catalogs, especially since you put up contemps, historicals, paras. (It’s so hard to find the new contemps’ book covers anywhere.) So thank you for that.

    I have been wanting to read JULIET since I saw the deal on Publisher’s Marketplace. I hope that book lives up to its hype.

    And the Cindy Pon cover makes me sad and mad. It disgusts me that covers are whitewashed. I would love for things to change but am not sure they will. :(

  2. KMont
    Jul 20, 2010 @ 11:23:44

    I remember when I first saw Pon’s book that it looked interesting. I didn’t buy it right away, not because of the obvious Asian influence, but because I can’t buy all the books I want at once (plus I’m not crazy about hardback). When I heard the paperback edition would be getting a different cover, I bought the hardback because I don’t want one with a cover that isn’t honest and accurate – I assumed it would get the same kind of art as shown above. The premise didn’t grab me right away, but I’ll be giving it a try. Thank goodness for Amazon.

    Also, I like your cover catalog. What’s not to love about a whole bunch of covers to look at, at one time.

  3. Ridley
    Jul 20, 2010 @ 11:34:09

    I thought Asians were the “good” minority.

    Agency pricing and ebooks have diversified my reading considerably. I’ve passed on every Agency 5 book since April, but I still read 10-20 books a month. I’ve got western historicals, f/f contemporaries, m/m romantic comedy, and all sorts of stuff queued up. Saying F U to major pubs hasn’t been the hardship I thought it would be at all.

    Still looking for some good IR romance that doesn’t make a big issue of race, if anyone has suggestions.

  4. Rosie
    Jul 20, 2010 @ 11:37:32

    It is profitable enough for an individual author to re-publish or self publish romance novels for these niche markets.

    Oh, how I wish more authors who are able would republish their OOP titles in e-format. Especially from the Americana (Pamela Morsi!) and historical western (Lorraine Heath!) genres. I realize many can’t for a variety of reasons, but their readers really would be winners.

  5. Romance Reader
    Jul 20, 2010 @ 11:39:02

    Thank you for the links. I was moved by Amy’s open letter, “We need to remember that this is a diverse world and that every man, woman, and child deserves to read books with characters that feature people who look like them.”

    And as a Haole in Hawaii, I’d like to read about characters that are not like me (otherwise it would be a boring book).

    I did not realize this was a problem until I starting reading Dear Author. I am thankful that my children, having grown up in the military and overseas, do not choose their books (or friends) based on race, color, gender, or religious preference.

    I encourage you, Jane, to remain hopeful as without hope all is lost.

  6. Moriah Jovan
    Jul 20, 2010 @ 11:48:12

    The audience isn't big enough to make it profitable for a major publisher to put those books out in print

    Even though I know not every midlist-bound book will make money (or even a percentage of them), sometimes I wonder if “it’s not profitable” is code for “it’s not profitable enough for our satisfaction.”

  7. John
    Jul 20, 2010 @ 12:01:34

    I was reading the series of posts on Cindy Pon’s cover from day one, and man, I am disappointed. Book sellers should know that there is a HUGE market among teens and MG readers for Asian protagonists and themes. Look at the bestselling fantasy series by Lian Hearn – starting with Across the Nightengale Floor. Not to mention the ever growing popularity of manga and anime. I have wanted to read The Silver Phoenix mainly because it has Asian themes surrounding it. :/ I also feel bad, because the new covers are not great and don’t stand out at all.

  8. Alea
    Jul 20, 2010 @ 12:10:45

    I’m in love with the releases by cover, that I will be referring to often! Thank you!

  9. sao
    Jul 20, 2010 @ 14:11:18

    How much market research goes into the idea that certain covers won’t sell? Or is this just publishing “wisdom” that’s been around for decades?

  10. Marg
    Jul 20, 2010 @ 18:24:57

    @KMont: I’ll be interested to see what you think when you read it, because I have read it and thought it was okay.

  11. Nadia Lee
    Jul 20, 2010 @ 22:19:01

    @sao: From what I understand, if the big chain buyers don’t like the cover (b/c they think it’s boring or won’t sell, etc.), the book’s doomed. So it’s probably more like publishers creating covers they think chain buyers will like.

  12. Janine
    Jul 21, 2010 @ 01:18:20

    @Ridley:

    Still looking for some good IR romance that doesn't make a big issue of race, if anyone has suggestions.

    If you don’t mind paranormal YA, I don’t think you could ask for a better book than Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves, which I reviewed here. The heroine is half African American and half Finn. Her love interest is Hispanic and not entirely human. Race is a nonissue in their relationship, and the book is made of awesome.

    What’s more, the cover doesn’t try to disguise the heroine’s race.

  13. Rosie
    Jul 21, 2010 @ 05:03:34

    Um, never mind what I said about wishing Lorraine Heath would self-publish her backlist. I just saw that most of her beloved OOP titles (Sweet Lullaby, Texas Glory, etc.) are coming out in e-format on Aug. 17. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am about that. I needed a bit of good news this week. :)

  14. Lorraine
    Jul 21, 2010 @ 11:22:46

    Love your cover catalog, Jane. Where do you find the time????? I stand in awe of your ability to use every minute of every day…(I can barely parent, work and keep my house clean, let alone find time to read).

  15. Estara
    Jul 21, 2010 @ 13:16:21

    That catalog and the single book pages with all their options are an incredible piece of work.

    If we want more Asian covers, we need to remember to buy Butterfly Swords when it comes out from Harlequin.

    Also: yes, the paperback cover of Silver Phoenix is also getting a white-washing make-over.

    However – if you actually want Cindy Pon to get money, you need to buy the paperbacks and the new book now, as the hardcover was remaindered by the publisher and doesn’t earn her additional revenues or even make her publisher aware that she’s popular. It’s all a vicious circle.
    This is a very thoughtful post on the subject. But I also really enjoyed this emotional appeal on the same subject.

  16. Jane
    Jul 21, 2010 @ 16:20:51

    @Lorraine I used Calibre + Calibre OPDS so you could put them together as well. I see my list is incomplete and some of my tags are wrong but all that can be modified and corrected.

  17. Kris
    Jul 22, 2010 @ 12:44:49

    I’d totally pick up Silver Phoenix if I saw it in a store – the cover is gorgeous. I’ll have to hunt down the book now, and pick it up.

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