Have you ever considered where your books really come from? The brief answer is, the author. People like JK Rowling and Neil Gaiman are famous for the words, characters, and worlds that they’ve created. But beyond that, the longer answer is the publishing industry, and if you think about it - what do you know about women in publishing? There is much written about the popular statistics of diversity in governments around the world, but in the literary arts industry? Not so much.
VIDA is a non-profit organization that aims to create transparency for the publishing and literacy industry. They do that by publishing the VIDA Count each year to highlight gender imbalances in every kind of literary publication they can: by genre, book reviewers, books reviewed and journalistic bylines. And it’s not just about women. VIDA is committed to showing not only the lack of gender parity, but also to amplify historically-marginalized voices, including people of color, writers with disabilities and queer, trans, and gender nonconforming individuals.
So what does the VIDA Count tell us about the last year? While certain publications are doing better when counting how many women are being published versus men, only 48 percent of counted publications published as many bylines by women writers as men. That’s a decrease of 10 percent from last year.
If we look closely at a specific publication like the Atlantic - there’s an interesting point to be made. Although only 36 percent of writers were women, it’s an improvement on last year’s ten point decrease. Can that be attributed to the transparency that the VIDA Count offers? Maybe. It can be argued that by bringing attention to publications that don’t do a good job, VIDA is helping to raise awareness.
Platforms like Book Riot write extensively on choosing your books based on where you want your dollars to go. Do you support diversity? Then read diversely. Instead of picking up the latest read just because it’s on the front table at your bookstore, look at the back cover and decide if that’s really where you want to place your support.
One way that you might consider reading more diversely is taking up Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge. While it’s a bit late in the year, it might be a great New Year's resolution to expand your reading repertoire for 2018. Reading diversely is a great way to put yourself in the shoes of someone who is not like yourself. If there’s anything that VIDA shows us, it’s that the publishing industry needs more diversity.
Diversity in publishing comes from one place: readers. By spending money on diverse authors and demanding books that come from many different cultures, the publishing industry would be forced to adapt its authorship to something more representative of the world that we live in today. The VIDA Count is one way for readers everywhere to measure what the situation is now, and where to start pushing for change.
All content posted on this site belong to their respectable owners. Each author holds all copyrights, and all rights are reserved to the holder.