Friday, October 15, 2010

Shelf-Elf Revolution Update -- Time to Focus on the Libraries

Hello Meltingpot Readers and All of My Loyal Shelf-Elves,

I want to say thank you to all of you subversive workers taking the law into your own hands and re-shelving my novel, Substitute Me. Some of you have told me that you've pulled it out of the African-American ghetto at some of the superstores and placed it in more attractive literary real-estate. So, thank you so much for that. Others have made my day by informing me that at their local independent bookstores they have found Substitute Me happily shelved in the general fiction section, organized solely by my last name. One reader in North Carolina told me she found Substitute Me at Barnes and Noble between Steinbeck and Tolstoy! Yeah!

From my unscientific research, it seems that Barnes and Noble keeps my book on the regular fiction shelf, but they also highlight it on a special shelf with other African-American titles. I'm okay with that. It just doubles my exposure. Now, Borders on the other hand, seems to only have Substitute Me in the African-American section of their store. If anyone has seen otherwise, please let me know and Shelf-Elves, let's get to work at our local Borders stores.

One of my writer buddies, who blogs over at The Many Shades of Love was horrified to find Substitute Me only on the African-American shelf at her local Borders and she wrote about her experience and what she thinks of seg-book-gation on her site. Thanks Amy for championing the cause. But what worried me, after reading Amy's post was the comment from a librarian. She said that Substitute Me earned one of those special yellow stickers to designate it as officially an 'African-American' title. Oy vey!

So, Shelf Elves, we have our work so cut out for us. Now we have to add libraries to our list of attack zones. And while I would never suggest we tamper with the work of our hard-working librarians, I want to suggest we not only re-shelve in the library, but we rip off the stickers as well. Not that the sticker isn't useful to some, but I think it's a deterrent to far more. Let's be honest. Even though most non-Black people wouldn't openly object to reading a book with Black characters, if the book has a bright yellow sticker on it that says "African-American Interest," there is an assumption then -- unless you're studying Black culture --that this book is not for you. Can I get a witness?

This is all so annoying. FYI, my next book is going to feature a Spanish immigrant, a Puerto Rican waitress , and a White female executive of a certain age. Where do you think they'll shelve that one?

Happy Weekend and Keep Hope Alive!



Dee said...

They may put your next book in the Latino/Hispanic section just because of the subject matter...the Spanish immigrant Puerto Rican waitress, etc.

Just curious: are you taking some inspiration from your husband for the Spanish immigrant? Are you thinking about a follow-up to Kinky Gazpacho or have you said all you needed to say? I wouldn't mind hearing how your family is doing--your kids and even your younger brother's own Kinky Gazpacho adventure. That is, if he doesn't already have a memoir in the works!

LT said...

You're prolly right! FYI, el esposo has banned the use of our family life for my literary inspiration. so from now on, it's all fiction. sort of...ha!

currents said...

They put my book in the travel section at the biggest bookstore in Berlin. Travel, yes I'm serious. A big ol' debate about integration and that's where they think to put my book! To say that they simply don't get it, is an understatement.

I have a friend ( a politician) who lives around the corner from said bookshop and grabs my book and puts it in the politics section.

I heard there will soon be an immigrant lit category in Germany . . . guess I know where they'll be sticking mine!