Agency: After the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year, and the widespread protests demanding racial justice across the U.S., readers rushed to buy books about race and racism. “So You Want to Talk About Race,” by Ijeoma Oluo, sold 10 times as many copies as it had the year before — over 340,000.
Publishers took notice. They signed deals for books about the experiences of Black Americans, many of which are coming out now, Elizabeth Harris writes in The Times. At least half a dozen new imprints prioritize books by and about people of color, including Roxane Gay Books, which the author and social commentator will edit; and Black Privilege Publishing, led by the radio host Charlamagne tha God.
Many in publishing bristle at the suggestion that the market can only absorb so many books on the topic. “What we’re talking about is not the category of ‘books about Black people’ or ‘racism,’” said Chris Jackson, editor in chief at Random House’s One World. “We’re talking about the category of ‘books about the American experience.’”
Books that assess race through a conservative lens are taking off, too — thanks in part, Harris writes, to “aggressive coverage of critical race theory by outlets like Fox News.”