World Book Night 2016’s Lack of Diversity Prompts Social Media Campaign

In an effort to create a more book-loving nation, World Book Night launched a 2016 giveaway list. Fifteen titles were chosen to be handed out, for free, at 2016’s World Book Night. The list included books by major authors such as Carol Ann Duffy and Matt Haig, but the thoughtful initiative to inspire adults globally to read has been heavily criticized because the list only includes white authors.  

After the list of books was announced, two bloggers, Naomi Frisby and Dan Lipscombe, turned to twitter to launch the hashtag #DiverseDecember. Naomi Frisby, who blogs for The Writes of Women, has stated that while the original hashtag was to inspire people to “only read books by BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) writers throughout December, tweeting titles and mini-reviews to highlight books and share recommendations by a range of voices,” the month-long hashtag has been so successful that the initiative is expanding to the entirety of 2016. The social media campaign is meant to celebrate all forms of diversity, which is necessary in engaging readers from all ends of the world.

World Book Night’s project manager, Rose Goddard, responded to the criticism, and specifically Nikesh Shukla’s article, ‘Where are World Book Night 2016’s BAME writers?,’ acknowledging the “exasperating problems we are facing as an industry.” Within the post, published on The Bookseller, Shukla provides readers with a list of BAME writers’ books to be included in future World Book Nights. The list includes everything from classics like Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, to modern essays like Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay.

On her blog, Frisby emphasizes the significance of #ReadDiverse2016 and the importance of equal opportunity and representation in the book world. She writes, “Going forward, we hope to help and promote authors that identify as LGBTIQ, those who are disabled and those who suffer from mental health conditions. As this idea sparked from a lack of BAME representation, that will remain our primary focus, but we can’t have diversity without every single voice.”

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