|Me with Walter Dean Myers!|
Luckily, the subject of publishing was broached and the speakers had somethings to say...
Doreen Rappaport spoke to the fact that she would like to publish books on less well known figures, but the publishers will not allow this to happen because of (drum roll...) MONEY! Making money, that is...you know, "the bottom line". Her quote was "publishers are cowardly", dictated by their purse strings.
Why is this?
It at least has partly to do with the current market. As libraries lose funding and brick and mortar book stores disappear, consumers will most likely "buy what they know", the serendipity aspect of book browsing in the stacks has all but vanished. It is risky to feature a new author, new subject or anything out of the mainstream because where will readers find it?
What can we do?
I think we can certainly support authors, books and bookstores that feature books that aren't "mainstream" but this is assuming that the books are being published. Sure, some are, check out publishers like Lee & Low and their imprints as well as Candlewick Press and other small publishing houses, however we know these are but drops in the proverbial bucket.
Walter Dean Myers had a pretty radical idea in regards to publishing that I would love to see some movement around. He believes that we as a COMMUNITY need to put pressure on less typical publishing houses such as university presses. Could a Harvard type university begin publishing books with characters of color? Walter Dean Myers thinks so- he believes the money and need is there. Now we just need to make some noise...
Mr. Meyers (reread his NYT OpEd here) closed out his session with this:
"No matter what the problem is, the individual is the answer...We need to reengage children in their own salvation."
Amen. Let's start this revolution and have our children lead us!