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Old 01-13-2020, 04:38 PM   #166
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OK, I'll bite. I've remained out of this thread so far, but...

I have a hard time figuring out what the "African-American section" of a bookstore is even supposed to be.

Is it for books for African-Americans? by African-Americans? about African-Americans? and, to be honest - how can this even remotely be a reasonable way to organize a bookstore by?
All three in their own sections? Reasonable? For me, if this organization increases sales, it is reasonable. If it is just being done to appear non-discriminatory, it's isn't.

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I mean, bookstores I go to are usually organized by genre, with some sections sorted by their intended public when it is specific enough (kids' books, typically), and general litterature organized by original language or country of origin. This I can understand, because language and country are also often indicative of some elements of style, or theme, or mood, and some readers may not want to read translated books, or may want to avoid it for some languages that they can read without translation.

Is there also a section for books by, or for, or about women?
One local bookstore has a section devoted to books by Canadian women and two sections for books about women ( feminism and women in history ). The only "racial" sorting they do is a section for Chinese language books.
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Old 01-13-2020, 05:05 PM   #167
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Originally Posted by Philippe D. View Post
OK, I'll bite. I've remained out of this thread so far, but...

I have a hard time figuring out what the "African-American section" of a bookstore is even supposed to be.

Is it for books for African-Americans? by African-Americans? about African-Americans? and, to be honest - how can this even remotely be a reasonable way to organize a bookstore by?

I mean, bookstores I go to are usually organized by genre, with some sections sorted by their intended public when it is specific enough (kids' books, typically), and general litterature organized by original language or country of origin. This I can understand, because language and country are also often indicative of some elements of style, or theme, or mood, and some readers may not want to read translated books, or may want to avoid it for some languages that they can read without translation.

Is there also a section for books by, or for, or about women?
My local bookstore does have an African American romance section separately. I don't think it is necessarily stereotyping by the bookstore - a lot of readers only want to read about their own race or cultures, so this is supposed to help the women looking for romance within a certain race.

It does, on the other hand, look bad if the rest of the romance is mixed and huge and you then assume it's all white authors dominating the rest of the shelves.

The best solution to me is have them all mixed together - the reader can browse to find what they want by looking, or else ask a store clerk for assistance.

I'm assuming the bookstores are doing this because consumers seem to want it that way, however.

I remember publishers trying to explain closure of certain lines on Twitter that were all focused on POC authors. They were accused of racial bias but the publishers said the sales were not good enough to keep the lines open. If money is being made, they will certainly keep selling the books and expanding these lines. If not, they will not keep marketing and producing. I'm assuming the bookstores set up sections for the same reason/same way.

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Old 01-13-2020, 05:27 PM   #168
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Originally Posted by Philippe D. View Post
OK, I'll bite. I've remained out of this thread so far, but...

I have a hard time figuring out what the "African-American section" of a bookstore is even supposed to be.

Is it for books for African-Americans? by African-Americans? about African-Americans?
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Originally Posted by leebase View Post
Yes. All of the above. Why not? And an LGBTQZLMNTOP section as well.
I remember Borders had both, typically at the end of the Fiction section. I think the practice has fallen by the wayside. At my local Barnes and Noble it's Westerns that are stuffed into the end of the Fiction section.

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Is there also a section for books by, or for, or about women?
It's called 'Romance'
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Old 01-13-2020, 10:33 PM   #169
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I would assume the book store put the AA romance books in the AA section for one reason: sales. Making money is, after all, their goal. Now the question is: Why does placing those books there make more sales?
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Old 01-14-2020, 10:03 AM   #170
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I would assume the book store put the AA romance books in the AA section for one reason: sales. Making money is, after all, their goal. Now the question is: Why does placing those books there make more sales?
People want to see themselves in books. Or at least minorities who are not part of the traditional cannon like to. It doesn't really matter the genre, but if you are from a marginalized community, you like to see yourself reflected in what you read. I am white, so I cannot speak for race, but I am also gay. It is wonderful to see yourself included in the fiction you read as a normal part of the world of the story. I read science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and I love it when an LGBTQ character shows up. I love it more when it isn't even part of the story, but when it is just there.

I imagine that bookstores are trying to cash in on that feeling. I don't read romance, but if the genre has had the racism issues some have described above, I would imagine it would profit to set that material aside so that your target audience doesn't have to go look for it.

I see the other side of it though... I appreciate the notion that it could just be on the shelf with the rest and it might open someone's mind to new possibilities were they just to pick it up at random.
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Old 01-14-2020, 04:15 PM   #171
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I wonder if AA readers of romance prefer to read AA romance starring African-Americans. As such, maybe it's simply easier for them to look in the AA Section rather than wade through heaps of non-AA Romance books just to find the AA books they crave.

So maybe there is no racism involved in placing AA romance books in the AA section, unless you count African-Americans preferring to read AA romance rather than non-AA books as a form of racism. If a white romance reader does not want to read AA books, does that make them racist?

Certainly, straight romance readers are not homophobic. There is a thriving market for "hot man-on-man action" in romance, and I beleive it is predominantly women who read it.
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Old 01-14-2020, 04:51 PM   #172
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Originally Posted by Pajamaman View Post
I wonder if AA readers of romance prefer to read AA romance starring African-Americans. As such, maybe it's simply easier for them to look in the AA Section rather than wade through heaps of non-AA Romance books just to find the AA books they crave.

So maybe there is no racism involved in placing AA romance books in the AA section, unless you count African-Americans preferring to read AA romance rather than non-AA books as a form of racism. If a white romance reader does not want to read AA books, does that make them racist?

Certainly, straight romance readers are not homophobic. There is a thriving market for "hot man-on-man action" in romance, and I beleive it is predominantly women who read it.
Yeah, with that I am officially checking right on out of this thread.
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Old 01-14-2020, 07:07 PM   #173
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Originally Posted by Pajamaman View Post
I wonder if AA readers of romance prefer to read AA romance starring African-Americans. As such, maybe it's simply easier for them to look in the AA Section rather than wade through heaps of non-AA Romance books just to find the AA books they crave.
Many readers prefer to only read science fiction or only read fantasy. They somehow manage to comb through the SF&F section and find what they want to read.
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Old 01-15-2020, 04:05 AM   #174
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Many readers prefer to only read science fiction or only read fantasy. They somehow manage to comb through the SF&F section and find what they want to read.
Genre preferences and separately displaying them in a bookstore is completely different from a split in ethnicity. As long as we draw attention (positive or negative) to arbitrary groups of ethnicity, there will be injustice.

One such example is companies with a female CEO and or owner that will advertise that fact on the product packaging. I should applaud them for being successful with many odds stacked against them. Or I could avoid such products advertising it, because it shouldn't matter. And it wasn't even a product targeted specifically to women.
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Old 01-15-2020, 04:37 AM   #175
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Genre preferences and separately displaying them in a bookstore is completely different from a split in ethnicity. As long as we draw attention (positive or negative) to arbitrary groups of ethnicity, there will be injustice.
I'm a white romance reader. It wouldn't occur to me, unless I had specific knowledge of this sort of kerfuffle, to go and search for an ethnicity-specific bookshop section in order to find a romance that might have a lead that's not white. I'd just look in Romance. And I very happily like and read a lot of romance with non-white leads. I just expect to find romance books in the romance section. Do I also have to go find the Arab section for romance heroes/heroines with that ethnicity? Is there a Hispanic section? Where is the gay interracial romance shelved?

That's a problem.

If what they're trying to do is also pull in general AA readers who wouldn't look in Romance otherwise, as well as general Romance readers, the logical thing to do would be to shelve the book in both sections. And hand-sell as appropriate.

(As a disclaimer, I've not actually heard of specific fixed ethnicity-specific sections in bookshops in my country. There might be a special front-of-store display of books of Aboriginal relevance, particularly at this moment with Dark Emu in the news, but I've not seen a permanent section.)

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Old 01-15-2020, 06:00 AM   #176
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(As a disclaimer, I've not actually heard of specific fixed ethnicity-specific sections in bookshops in my country. There might be a special front-of-store display of books of Aboriginal relevance, particularly at this moment with Dark Emu in the news, but I've not seen a permanent section.)
Amazon.com, at least the US store I have access to (not sure if the international one is exactly the same), has one AA section and a general section. The AA section has sub categories for different genres and their own top 100 lists. I have not cross checked with the general section if the books from the AA section can also be found in the general section. I hope they are, otherwise that choice would be horrible. I guess it is more a culture thing rather than a skin color thing.
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Old 01-15-2020, 06:09 AM   #177
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Amazon.com, at least the US store I have access to (not sure if the international one is exactly the same), has one AA section and a general section. The AA section has sub categories for different genres and their own top 100 lists. I have not cross checked with the general section if the books from the AA section can also be found in the general section. I hope they are, otherwise that choice would be horrible. I guess it is more a culture thing rather than a skin color thing.
I'm talking about B&M shops. It's trivially easy to put books in multiple categories online.

For a semi-random Amazon example, Trail of Lightning is currently ranked in Dystopian Fiction and in Native American Literature (and may well be in other categories also, just not ranked atm). Children of Blood & Bone is ranked in Teen & Young Adult Fiction about Prejudice and in Teen & Young Adult Myths & Legends. Pride Prejudice and Other Flavors is in Multicultural & Interracial Romance and in Family Life Fiction. Kind of Cursed is in Multicultural Romances and Romantic Comedy. Let It Shine is ranked in Multicultural & Interracial Romance, Literature & Fiction, and Romance.

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Old 01-15-2020, 02:38 PM   #178
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Genre preferences and separately displaying them in a bookstore is completely different from a split in ethnicity.
I don't think so. Why shouldn't romances featuring predominantly black leads be mixed in with the rest of romance? I think they should. Readers that want to read them will find them without them needing to be hived off as suggested in #171

And nowadays, I think that is happening. I'm more familiar with sci-fi than romance and Children of Blood and Bone is shelved in with the rest of SF&F. Easy Rawlins isn't relegated to some special interest subsection of mystery.

Quote:
As long as we draw attention (positive or negative) to arbitrary groups of ethnicity, there will be injustice.
I agree. I think we're on the same page here.

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Old 01-15-2020, 02:51 PM   #179
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Amazon.com... has one AA section and a general section.
'Sections' at Amazon are just out of control. I'd swear Amazon makes new sections so that books can be listed as best sellers. Currently Stephen King's It is #22 in Werewolf & Shifter Thrillers, but it is only #36 in Werewolves & Shifters Suspense. Better luck next time Steve
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Old 01-15-2020, 04:07 PM   #180
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I don't think so. Why shouldn't romances featuring predominantly black leads be mixed in with the rest of romance? I think they should. Readers that want to read them will find them without them needing to be hived off as suggested in #171

And nowadays, I think that is happening. I'm more familiar with sci-fi than romance and Children of Blood and Bone is shelved in with the rest of SF&F. Easy Rawlins isn't relegated to some special interest subsection of mystery.



I agree. I think we're on the same page here.
So:

Does this argument mean that Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, etc., should not have their categories of LGBTQ? That's bad?


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