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B&N, PRH cancel Diverse Editions promotion after backlash

In the US, Barnes & Noble and Penguin Random House have cancelled a planned Black History Month promotion after a social media backlash that accused the companies of ‘literary blackface’, reports Publishers Weekly.

Under the name Diverse Editions, PRH was going to publish a dozen classic books with new covers featuring characters rendered as ethnically diverse. The featured titles included Frankenstein, Moby-Dick, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Alice in Wonderland and The Secret Garden. The books were to be exclusively sold at Barnes & Noble’s Fifth Avenue store in New York City, which was to host a panel discussion to discuss the question, ‘What if your favourite literary characters reflected the diversity of America?’

Critics of the promotion included author Angie Thomas, who suggested the companies should instead promote books by authors of colour. In a statement, Barnes & Noble said: ‘We acknowledge the voices who have expressed concerns about the Diverse Editions project at our Barnes & Noble Fifth Avenue store and have decided to suspend the initiative. The covers are not a substitute for black voices or writers of color, whose work and voices deserve to be heard.’


Category: International news