Inside the Push to Diversify the Book Business

Can the industry open up to new readers?

For generations, America's major publishers focused almost entirely on white readers. In our cover story this week, Marcela Valdes reports on how a new cadre of executives like is trying to open up the industry, mainly by figuring out how to nurture the vast swaths of America that big publishers have mostly ignored.

It's an effort that is complicated by a long history of neglect, which itself is bound up with publishers' failure to take diversity in their own professional ranks seriously until recently. While reporting the article, Valdes talked to more than 50 current and former book professionals and authors about the previous unsuccessful attempts to cultivate Black audiences and about an industry culture that still struggles to overcome the clubby, white elitism it was born in.

As Lucas sees it, the future of book publishing will be determined not only by its recent hires but also by how it answers this question: Instead of fighting over slices of a shrinking pie, can publishers work to make the readership bigger for everyone?


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