Publishing Makes Little Progress in Diversity, Remains Extremely White

Publishers Weekly‘s annual salary survey for the book industry has just been released. It’s full of nitty-gritty salary information for different professional levels.

But what’s newsworthy beyond insiders is this: in the area of diversity — the number one hot topic among the people who write books and the people who publish them — there appears to be “only slight progress” forward.

According to the magazine: 

 The share of publishing employees who identified themselves as white/Caucasian was 88% in 2015, hardly different from 89% in 2014. The share of male respondents who are white was 94% in the most recent survey, while 86% of women said they are white.

Given the stasis in bringing in more members of racial and ethnic minorities into the industry, it is not surprising that only 30% of all respondents said they thought publishing had made some strides in diversifying its workforce. More white respondents, 31%, said they thought some progress had been made on the issue than nonwhite respondents, 21% of whom said they believed there have been advances.

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Given the brouhaha over Lionel Shriver’s speech about cultural appropriation and diversity within fiction itself, this context feels vitally important — this is an extremely white world, the world of literary gatekeepers, decision-makers, and publicists.

It makes the idea that somehow artistic freedom is under assault by diversity seem more ludicrous than ever.