Book Beat: BAME Writers, A Queer Eye Book, and Germany’s Oldest Public Library

Hello lovely readers — welcome to another installment of Book Beat, from your Bookmarked editor Paige. While my week has been wonderfully exhausting chaos, it seems the publishing world has avoided too much controversy as summer starts its slow crawl into fall. Not gonna lie… I appreciate the break.

Still, there are a few key events to keep track of, so let’s jump right into this week on the Beat!

BEA and NYRF Come Together in NYC 2019

While the 2018 con season may be in full swing, it’s never too early to start planning for next year’s festivities. Unlike us casual con attendees, however, publishing professionals seem to already be meticulously planning their 2019s and all the industry events they’ll need to attend. Fortunately, there’s a few events consolidating their efforts for everyone’s mutual convenience.

Despite operating in separate venues earlier this year, BookExpo America (BEA) and the New York Rights Fair (NYRF) just announced that they will join forces at the New York City Javits Center next year.

The Javits Center in NYC
The Javits Center in NYC

BEA is a longstanding multi-day event primarily for professionals to discuss the latest trends in print and digital publishing, though many authors and publishers are stationed at the convention to premiere their new and upcoming works to industry colleagues. Meanwhile, NYRF premiered just this year as the U.S.’ first ever trade and licensing show exclusively dedicated to buying, selling, distributing, and licensing international rights.

The two con events will run concurrently from May 29th – 31st, 2019. Then, BEA will morph into the more casual BookCon from June 1st – 2nd, 2019.

British YA is Becoming Less Diverse

A few weeks ago, we reported that the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education found in a recent study that only one percent of British children’s books feature a main character of color. Based on that startling information, I’m sure this next bout of news will be as equally shocking, totally unsurprising, and wholly disappointing.

According to new study by Dr. Melanie Ramdarshan Bold at University College London, there is a staggeringly low number of YA books by black and minority ethnic (BAME) authors published in the UK. This study looked at titles from 2006 to 2016, which is considered a boom period for YA fiction, and found that during this time only 8% of all YA titles were written by BAME authors.

Not only is this statistic well below the 13% minority population, but, when spread out across each year within this time frame, it also indicates there is a steady decline in the proportion of BAME authorial representation as well. While BAME YA titles reached a publishing high of 14% in 2008, by 2016 that number declined to only 6%. Meanwhile, white women and men dominated the YA genre at the same time, publishing 59% and 31% of all titles by 2016, respectively.

Ramdarshan Bold cites the UK’s publishing culture for the systemic underrepresentation of authors of color. “The publishing industry needs to engage in more sustainable action, rather than discussions, to help shift the entire publishing culture, which is clearly outdated for, and not reflective of, the communities it serves,” her report states. “Until this happens, these dire statistics will not change significantly.”

Queer Eye Cast Land A Book Deal

In a world of formulaic TV dramas and a depressing 24 hour news cycle, there has been a mass exodus of people turning from prime time to embrace the comforts of simple, feel-good shows.. and Netflix, because who has the patience anymore for weekly updates, you know? Couple those two ideas together, and the hottest cultural phenomenon captivating audiences right now is Netflix’s reboot of Queer Eye.

But don’t worry if you’ve already binged the last two seasons and are craving more of the Fab Five. Antoni Porowski, Tan France, Karamo Brown, Bobby Berk, and Jonathan Van Ness just announced that they will release their joint lifestyle book on November 13th called, QUEER EYE: Love Yourself, Love Your Life. Can you believe?

The book will be divided into five categories based on each cast member’s area of expertise, and each section will provide various “hip tips” and “five-minute make betters” to help readers improve their lives. The book will also feature exclusive behind-the-scenes photos from the set of Queer Eye and candid insights into the cast’s lives and interests. This is all done with the explicit purpose of deepening fan connection to the show and further advocating for queer acceptance in the mainstream.

“It’s only when I’m out on the street and people get really excited that I’m like, ‘Holy crap this is having a huge impact on so many people across the world,'” says cast member Tan France. “Every time we do something, whether it be in the press or the show or this book, we push the agenda forward that we are fighting for acceptance. It’s no longer just ‘tolerate us.’ It’s a message that will run through every season. It’s a message that everyone of us follows in our daily lives.”

Ancient Public Library Discovered in Germany

Archaeologists uncover new and fascinating remnants of human history on a daily basis; that much is a given. But in a world where the significance of the discovery ranges from your basic backyard treasures to an Egyptian sarcophagus filled with apparently enticing red fluid, Germany has definitely been lucking out on great finds.

A few weeks ago, archaeologists from the Greek Archaeological Services and the German Institute of Archaeology discovered the oldest written record of Homer’s The Odyssey, this version bearing a copy of 13 verses of book 14 from around the 3rd century AD. To keep on brand with this literary find, German archaeologists in Cologne have just confirmed that they have uncovered the remains of the oldest public library in the country.

Cologne dig site for the oldest public library in Germany
Cologne dig site (credit: Hi-flyFoto/Roman-Germanic Museum of Cologne)

Archaeologists discovered the walls to this library last year during an excavation at a Protestant church in the middle of the city. While at the time they determined these walls were of Roman origin, thus clocking their construction at almost two millennia ago, archaeologists at first could not figure out their purpose — particularly the evenly measured niches that ran along the walls. But various context clues about the walls’ location and architecture have now all but convinced archaeologists that these walls held a large number of scrolls for public consumption. Now that their purpose is known, the discovery is being called “a spectacular find,” and just goes to show you the centuries’ old human appreciation and necessity for public accessibility to knowledge.

This is totally a good time to reiterate the importance of libraries, right? Amazon, eat your heart out.

Out This Week

Sea Witch by Sarah Henning
A Double Life by Flynn Berry
Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras
The Incendiaries by R.O. Kwon
Cover for The Incendiaries By R.O. Kwon

Happy Thursday!

Paige Allen

Paige Allen

Adult-in-training by day, queer geek of color by night.