The coming ‘tsunami’ of books on race


Some titles saw explosive growth. “So You Want to Talk About Race,” first published in 2018, sold nearly 34,000 copies in the 12 months before Floyd’s death. In the year that followed, it made sales of more than 10 times that amount.

Publishing executives wonder who the winners and losers will be in a crowded field. However, many editors, including Chris JacksonRandom House, the publisher and editor-in-chief of One World, rejects the idea that the market will reach some kind of saturation point.

“The history of publishing is that when something works, people try to do derivative versions,” said Mr. Jackson. “So of course you’re going to get some books that aren’t really that good, that are probably derivative or repetitive or redundant with things that are already out there. It’s inevitable.”

But books about race and racism should not be put 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 about. They’re talking about different aspects of it.”

Take two books from One World, he said: “four hundred souls,” edited by Ibram X. Candy and Keisha N. Blaine and published in February, and “The 1619 Project”, which will be out in November. “You can say, ‘Well, you just published a book that’s about 400 years of black history,’ but those are completely different books,” said Mr. Jackson. He said that one is a history of celebration, while the other is a series of essays examining contemporary American life. “They are no more competitive with each other than any other book about political economies that is competitive with the work of history.”

Books looking at race through a conservative lens starting to take off – Candace Owens and Mark R. There’s more coming this fall—including titles from authors like Levine—and aimed at the same audience. These books have been fueled by aggressive coverage of critical race theory by outlets such as Fox News, and republican party plan To run on issues of the culture-war in next year’s midterm election.

Many balked at the suggestion that the market could only absorb so many books about anti-black racism and the experiences of black Americans. Ms. Habib, the literary agent, said that for many years, the publication operated on the “saccity model”, rooted in the idea that there could be only one successful book about black lives, for example, each season.



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