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More book covers and thoughts on Liar

July 30, 2009

In response to the Liar cover controversy, I’ve seen several reactions along the lines of “I’ll buy the Australian version instead of Bloomsbury’s.” And this got me thinking.

According to Bloomsbury, Liar has an initial print run of 100,000. Assuming 1) Bloomsbury can’t/won’t change the print run; and 2) a significant number of people do, in fact, decide not to buy the Bloomsbury edition, what will this mean for Justine Larbalestier? If Liar does not sell through (or sell enough), will this have an effect on her future novels? 100,000 is a big print run, and booksellers base their orders on how well an author’s previous books sold. So if a significant amount of stock is returned, will this mean a bookstore won’t carry (as many copies of) Larbalestier’s future novels? Call me cynical, but I’d find it hard to believe that bookstores will take a customer boycott into consideration when looking at their sales numbers. Anyone who knows more about this subject want to chime in?

Now, on to the continuation of Monday’s book cover post. In the new in 2009/Asian-American category, here’s Sharon Shinn’s Gateway, coming in October.

ETA: J.A. Yang’s Exclusively Chloe is also about a Chinese adoptee, which must be this year’s trend.

gatewayexclusively chloe

Micol Ostow’s Fashionista, part of the Bradford Prep series, will be published on August 25.


There are also at least two more 2009/Asian in other countries books. The cover for Julia Donaldson’s Running on the Cracks is completely underwhelming, but I’d like to read it anyway.

running on the cracksten things

I’m not sure whether to include graphic novels or not, but here are two from 2008/(part) Asian in other countries.

skimemiko superstar

If you need a break from all the serious cover talk, you can make your own debut YA cover (instructions at 100 Scope Notes). Here’s mine:

vault 2

Original image here.

About the Books
by Sharon Shinn (Penguin/Viking): While passing through the Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, a Chinese American teenager is transported to a parallel world where she is given a dangerous assignment.

Exclusively Chloe by J.A. Yang (Penguin/Speak): In the public eye since she was adopted as a baby from China by her Hollywood celebrity parents, sixteen-year-old Chloe-Grace, longing for a “normal” life,” undergoes a transformation with the help of her mother’s stylist and finds not only the life she wanted but an important key to her past.

Fashionista by Micol Ostow (S&S/Simon Pulse): [no LC summary yet]

Running on the Cracks by Julia Donaldson (Henry Holt): After her parents are killed in an accident, English teenager Leonora Watts-Chan runs away to Glasgow, Scotland, to find her Chinese grandparents.

Ten Things I Hate About Me by Randa Abdel-Fattah (Scholastic/Orchard): Lebanese-Australian Jamilah, known in school as Jamie, hides her heritage from her classmates and tries to pass by dyeing her hair blonde and wearing blue-tinted contact lenses, until her conflicted feelings become too much for her to bear.

Skim by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki (Groundwood): Wiccan goth teen Kimberly Keiko Cameron sinks into a growing depression after her classmate’s ex-boyfriend kills himself, sparking a school revolution that forces all the students to redefine themselves.

Emiko Superstar by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Steve Rolston (DC/Minx): Emiko is a teenager on a quest to find herself who goes from suburban babysitter to eclectic urban performance artist.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. Scope Notes permalink
    July 30, 2009 2:33 am

    Vault turned out very nice – I’ll add it to the gallery I have going. Thanks for taking part.

    • July 30, 2009 3:30 pm

      Thanks for the instructions and the gallery. Some of those covers are awesome.

  2. July 30, 2009 11:32 am


    I hear you. For me, it’s a matter of principle. I’m not callous and I don’t want Justine punished. But like her, I act on what I believe. The wallet talks. Verbally chastising the publisher and then buying the book says controversy sells. Then readers are as complicit as those who made the bad decision.

    Twenty plus years ago, I stopped shopping at a mall that had a history of discriminating against blacks. Did the mall close, of course not. I still do not shop there. The individual doesn’t always have the power to act. In this instance we do.

    And we all know, there will be plenty of readers who are not bothered by the cover or those who don’t know about the controversy and they will buy the book. I won’t. Bloomsbury is not likely to suffer financially.

    I’ve said before I am not overly impressed with what people say. It’s how you act on what you say believe. If you believe the cover is wrong then don’t contradict yourself by rewarding the publisher.

  3. July 30, 2009 11:33 am

    I really want to read Skim and Emiko Star.

    • July 30, 2009 3:39 pm

      I haven’t read Emiko Superstar yet (planning on borrowing it today), but Skim is excellent.

      As to your points in the previous comment, thank you for framing the issue so cogently. I commented elsewhere that maybe what I need to do to get over my qualms concerning my pessimistic, worst-case scenario fears about Larbalestier’s future sales to chains is to imagine that she’ll simply start publishing (at another house, I suppose) under a pen name.

  4. July 30, 2009 11:00 pm

    Wow, I was just going to email you about Exclusively Chloe. When we first got the covers, I asked people if they thought the cover model looked Chinese. I got a wide variety of responses, and maybe half of them thought she didn’t necessarily look Asian. Great posts (and blog of course)!

  5. Harriet permalink
    July 31, 2009 3:08 pm

    Me too. It’s a matter of principle. If Justine had no control over the decision to put a white girl on the cover, why should the publisher punish her? Why aren’t the people who made the decision and the editorial staff fired?

    Actually – when you take a look at the entire Bloomsbury YA lineup you see that they don’t really seem to want black girls on the cover and clearly, don’t want them as consumers.

    Maybe another publisher with more sense will take Justine on as an author. But I’m insulted that Bloomsbury doesn’t seem to be buying work from black authors, but when a white author publishes a book about “us” is all to happy to take the project on then slap a white face on the cover then claim “who’s to say the narrator isn’t lying” about her own race.

    So in Melanie Cecka’s (editor) alternate universe, she’s publishing a book about a white girl who is lying about being black? Even if the author says definitively that the narrator IS NOT lying about her race? That’s Bloomsbury’s position – that their lily white YA lineup is unmarred because the narrator is “secretly” white? Huh?

    If I were the author I’d be insulted by the way Bloomsbury had mishandled both the cover and the explanation of what is a clear cut book about a black girl. It’s bad enough to have a single title in which a black girl is branded a “liar.” Which gets me thinking – why buy the book at all in any version? At some point we have to say to publishing “enough is enough.”

  6. August 2, 2009 4:42 pm

    If you don’t buy the book, is that a message that there shouldn’t be any minority main characters in books because they don’t sell? Because that could be the message the publisher gets if you refrain from buying the book based on the cover, rather than you making a stand against using white girls for characters that are clearly not white on the cover.

  7. August 3, 2009 10:40 am

    Skim is excellent. Thanks for posting these other covers and for your coverage of this issue.

  8. August 5, 2009 6:47 pm

    100,000 is a fricking huge print run! I’m sure bloggers who’ve been keeping up with the controversy will make their preference as to cover, but no-one else is really going to know about all this hoo-hah. And bloggers who will buy this book make up how much of that 100,000? Less than one per cent? I think Larbelestier will be fine. This sounds like an amazing book, even if the publishers are into white-washing.

  9. August 11, 2009 10:16 pm

    Buy the book from Australia? I don’t know what it’s like in the US, but if you want an Australian book shipped to Europe you’ll have to pay about $45 for the freight. Which is why we seldom get to read Australian books here, unless they are republished by someone in the US or the UK. A pity, really.

    It’s an interesting and revealing debate, though. I’ve tried as hard as I can to come up with a YA book in Swedish that features an East Asian guy as main protagonist, but I couldn’t think of even one. Sad.

  10. August 12, 2009 3:00 pm

    Hey, you know, I feel compelled to say something about Asian characters as cartoons on books that are clearly not manga.

    I am a little fearful that U.S. publishers are starting a dangerous trend where Asian-American characters are mostly depicted as cartoon-characters. Hey, we’re real people, too!


  1. Gallery: Debut YA Covers « 100 Scope Notes
  2. Folklore Fanatic | Justine Larbalestier and the Case of the Whitewashed Book Cover

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