Losing its Silver Shine

Posted on 2 July 2010 Friday

If you can accept this

you can probably accept this

The posts are stacking up against this recent cover controversy. I don’t think it’s so clear cut this time and as you read this post, you’ll probably note some conflict. The controversy is the recent change in covers on Cindy Pon’s Silver Phoenix. This latest whitewashing comes with a little more transparency than most: sales were low, the publisher wanted to increase profit. With the second in a series about to appear in August, they saw the opportunity to re-market the book. I can understand that, but the problem is, they’ve dropped all traces of the character’s Asian heritage.

I haven’t read Silver Phoenix (Don’t be offended Ms. Pon, you’re in good company: there are so many wonderful books by excellent authors that I just haven’t had time to read or review yet!) I don’t know how ‘girlie’ this warrior is. I don’t know if the lip gloss and manicured nails really portray her well. I have added Silver Phoenix to my library and it has circulated. Students will read it. I think if teens are left alone, they will choose books based on content rather than the cover. But in choosing to put all covers in the genre of dark vampires, publishers are training students how to be their type of consumer.

I didn’t care a lot for the first cover, but it was truer to the character and to the story. Even I have to admit the strong determination in the model’s face and the richness found in the background images. This one, with its tagline “Lush, exotic and romantic”, with its light brown hair and shadowed face is not. If you’re going this route, why not use a symbol and cash in on the students who crave manga and action?

I did a little checking on Amazon sites in Japan, UK, France and Canada and I see that in every one of these countries, Silver Phoenix has the same cover. How are sales around the world? Will the cover now change everywhere? That new cover was an original. Is this new one, or did they work with stock images? That would be a true insult: to find this same model on another book.

What really bothers me is what happens if the book sales rapidly increase with this new cover? This cover could be a litmus test in what sells and the outcome frightens me. After all, let’s look at the publicity this controversy is generating.

It’s 4th of July weekend. Our country’s birthday. The middle of the summer. And, it is going to be HOT! A great day to go to a bookstore and buy a book by an author of color. Don’t look for books on your own. Ask the clerks if they have Silver Phoenix, Bamboo People or Skunk Girl. Make them aware of what they don’t have! If your public library doesn’t have Silver Phoenix, request that they purchase it.

Posted in: Causes