The Bookseller’s “Black Issue” is published today, guest-edited by Marianne Tatepo, founder of the Black Agents and Editors’ Group (BAE) and commissioning editor at Ebury (Lifestyle). The magazine features an op-ed from Sir Lenny Henry, and interviews with authors Priscilla Mante, Mateo Askaripour and Candice Carty-Williams.
Introducing the issue in her Editor's Letter, Tatepo writes: "The Black Issue is about just that: the power of diasporic collaboration and the multitudes of Blackness. It is a celebration of difference without the tokenism, and a commitment to allowing Blackness to define itself. For perhaps the first time in their career, non-Black readers are actively encouraged to regard Blackness with the default nuance and intrinsic humanity afforded whiteness. Encouraged to see Black people in the book world—and the world itself—more richly, truthfully, generously."
Also included is an eight-page Black author preview, written by a former journalist at The Bookseller Natasha Onwuemezi, and an overview, written by Tatepo in collaboration with her colleagues at BAE, of the Black publishing experience. Entitled, 'Stop being ‘nice’, start doing good: 15 steps to doing better', the piece presents 15 questions to ask yourself, from "What can I do as a manager to invite fairness by creating a progression path based on business merit?" to, "Do I tend to feel more comfortable hiring people who look like me?"
The magazine also includes op-eds from editor Jasmine Richards, HarperCollins' sales executive Rochelle Dowden-Lord, and Kadija Sesay, publications manager for Peepal Tree and creator of AfriPoeTree. There is also a spotlight on African book publishing company Cassava Republic, and an analysis of how publishers are diversifying their lists based on exclusive data, written by freelance journalist Heather Marks. The cover was designed and illustrated by Leah Jacobs-Gordon, with the masthead and lettering by Bonita Ivie.
Philip Jones, editor of The Bookseller, said: "This is groundbreaking and important issue of The Bookseller, and tribute to Marianne for bringing steel and judgement to her editing, as well as putting up with some occasional advice from the incumbent. This was an ambitious project, well supported across the trade, but I suspect it will still be a challenging read for some. What's important though is how it motivates us all to keep doing better. As Marianne writes, the existence of this issue is not the solution."