The President-Elect and the Publishing Industry

November 10th, 2016 by isabella_pioli | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on The President-Elect and the Publishing Industry
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When we started the semester discussing Publishing and threats to publishing, everyone was discussing Brexit. As an American, I recognized it as a threat, but I saw a threat on our horizon and so I too brought up a potential threat to Publishing… a Trump Presidency. crying-studentsEveryone chuckled, not really believing that it was a possibility. If we are being honest, if I’m being honest with myself, I saw the writing on the wall about five months ago when Trump became the Republican Presidential candidate. America is a pendulum when it comes to its’ presidents and these past four years have driven the Republican party farther to the right.

The day after the election, The Bookseller published as article titled “’Dismayed’ trade reacts to Donald Trump’s election” and I felt disgustingly vindicated. Trump’s presidency presents a threat to publishing just as it poses a problem to first amendment rights.People came up to me and gave me their condolences. We were all there at the funeral of America’s future, but this is not the first time we’ve felt that way about our country. Most felt the same fear upon George W. Bush’s election and re-election.This time the stakes are higher, this time people have more to lose. The LGBTQIA community has won so many victories in the past eight years and now we have elected a man whose vice president openly promotes conversion camps. Women have grown in their voices and intersectional feminism is steadily growing, but upon election night 53% of white women voted for Trump. Vice President Biden became a voice for a movement to bring an end to sexual assault and our President-elect has double digit accusations of sexual assault against him. This is truly a harrowing time in American history.

People are talking about a growth in anti-intellectualism with the election of Trump and all for which he stands. So, how can the publishing industry combat these new issues, well we can start by addressing the fact that these aren’t new issues at all, but a continuation of hate, ignorance, and fear. The lack of diversity is an issue that isn’t going away, because very few people are doing anything to stop it. By diversity, I don’t just mean the racial and economic disparities present in publishing, but the lack of diversity in topics. Heteronormativity in literature is an issue. Publishers are slowly coming out with more LGBTQ material, but most of it is produced by specialty publishers. Main publishers need to create more diverse content. We need main characters that are bisexual and state that they are bisexual. oscar-wilde-quoteWhat is bisexual? Authors need to write their characters with well-informed notions. The authors don’t need to be LGBTQ themselves but they need to know what they are talking about. People need to start understanding what feminism actually means, not just saying femi-nazi or assuming that its about women being better than men. We need to be explicit in our definitions and not leave anything up to interpretation. We need more characters that are people of color. We need POC’s to be described as human beings, not using food metaphors to describe the color of their skin. We need characters to understand and accept differences between cultures and have discussions about religion. We need literature (from YA to hyper-intellectualism) to be an inspiration and a source of accurate information. We need literature to build the bridges that real world conversations are failing at addressing. We need to be a strong global community that lifts each other up, that allows for a safe place fo minorities to escape into, and we need to never forget that fear and hate are founded in ignorance. Books disperse information and create worlds that give hope. We need hope in these next four years and the publishing industry needs to be at the heart of a movement to dispel misinformation, bigotry, and xenophobia. It has never been more important than it is now that we, as publishers, look at what we publish as a moral and ethical paragon of information. Let us quell the tide of fear and hate with more inclusivity and more diversification.

by Isabella Pioli

Non-Fiction November and a Few Recommendations

November 10th, 2016 by Alice Laing | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Non-Fiction November and a Few Recommendations
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“National Non-Fiction November is the Federation of Children’s Book Groups’ annual celebration of all things factual.” – FCBG

I have always had a soft spot for non-fiction, which was definitely born out of my love of history, and I was excited to learn about a month dedicated to encouraging children and adults to read non-fiction books and celebrate with those who already love them.

With this celebration in mind I stood in front of my ‘non-fiction bookshelf’ (which in reality is half non-fiction and half graphic novels/comic books/miscellaneous) to choose five of my favourites. I want to share these reccomendations with you in the hopes of encouraging the flow of information and the love of non-fiction.

Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates

Everyday Sexism is an exploration into the ever present sexism that women experience daily, from ‘small’ acts of verbal harassment to the horrifying experiences of sexual assault. Laura Bates combines statistics with real experiences shared on her Twitter feed and the Everyday Sexism website.

Its blurb describes it as “Bold, jaunty but always intelligent [… a] protest against inequality that provides a unique window into the vibrant movement sparked by this juggernaut of stories – often shocking, sometimes amusing and always poignant.” At times it is difficult to read, specifically regarding the stories of assult, but does offer a glaring insight into the often frightening experiences that women face when they walk outside their front door.

Girl Up by Laura Bates

Another one by Laura Bates (I think I’m in love with her). Girl Up is aimed at teenage girls and young women. Emma Watson praises the book by saying it “unapologetically addresses what teenage girls are really dealing with.” It covers everything from the hypocrisy of dress codes to consent. This book does not hold back – there are swear words and non-censored sex education – but it is also an engaging read that I wish existed when I was a teenager.

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Now onto my love of History (and my issues with it). Silencing the Past is a wonderful little book (191 pages) that tackles the idea that power dictates history and explores what history is deemed important (spoiler alert: white, western history). It explores (with its limited length) some histories that have been ‘silenced’, specifically it covers the Haitian slave revolt, the denials of the Holocaust, and the debate over the Alamo. This book is an interesting look at the role power plays in the recording of history.

The World of the Haitian Revolution edited by David Patrick Geggus & Norman Fiering

The World of the Haitian Revolution is a collection of essays that attempts (quite successfully) to explore the complex issues surrounding Haiti’s emancipation from the French Empire. This collection covers everything from Haiti (formally known as Saint-Domingue) before the French Revolution, to its own revolution and the creation of the first independent black nation.

A truly fascinating period of History that is often forgotten about and is dear to my heart as Haiti (along with Guadeloupe and Martinique) was the subject of my undergraduate dissertation. It is therefore a subject I will gladly talk (read: rant) about for hours.

Image Matters: Archive, Photography, and the African Diaspora in Europe by Tina M. Campt

Image Matters is a look into African diaspora in Europe through a collection of two photographic archives explored and analysed by Tina M. Campt. The first collection is of black German families taken between 1900 and 1945 and the second are studio portraits of West Indian migrants living in Birmingham, England taken between 1948 and 1960.

Elizabeth Edwards describes how this book explores “questions about the nature of historical evidence and the historical process.”  It is facinating look into race and class in 20th century Europe, filled with photographs that tell stories about people who history often ignores.

You can find out more about Non-Fiction November 2016 here. Happy reading.

by Alice Laing