Certain titles experienced explosive growth. “So You Want To Talk About Race”, first released in 2018, sold approximately 34,000 copies in the 12 months before Floyd’s death. In the following year, it has sold more than 10 times that amount.
Publishers wonder who the winners and losers will be in an increasingly crowded field. However, many editors, including Chris Jackson, publisher and editor-in-chief of Random House’s One World, reject the idea that the market will reach some saturation point.
“The story of the release is that when something works, people try to make the derived version,” Jackson said. “So definitely you will get some books that are really not that good, that are probably derived or repeated or superfluous from things that are already out there. It is inevitable. ”
But books on race and racism should not be lumped together, he continued. “What we are talking about is not the category of ‘books about black people’ or ‘racism,’ we are talking about the category of ‘books about the American experience,'” he said. “Because that’s what these books are. They talk about different aspects of it. ”
Taking two books from One World, he said, “Four Hundred Souls,” edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain and published in February, and “The 1619 Project,” due out in November. “You can say, ‘Well, you just published a book about 400 years of black history,’ but those are completely different books,” Jackson said. One is a festive storytelling story, he added, while the other is a series of essays examining today’s American life. “They are no more competitive with each other than any other book on political economies is competitive with a historical work.”
Books that see race through a conservative lens are also starting to pick up speed – including titles by authors like Candace Owens and Mark R. Levin – and more are coming this fall that appeal to the same audience. These books have been amplified by aggressive coverage of critical race theory by businesses like Fox News and the Republican Party’s plan to run on culture war issues at next year’s midterm elections.
Many in publishing bristles on the suggestion that the market can only absorb so many books on anti-black racism and the experiences of black Americans. Ms Habib, the literary agent, said that for many years the publication operated according to a “scarcity model” rooted in the idea that there could be only one successful book on black life, for example, each season.