The night I posted my blog post about the Barnes & Noble experiment, I spent some time talking to folks about their experiences finding works by authors of color in Barnes & Noble. Turns out that while my experience wasn’t uncommon, a number of Barnes & Noble stores are diverse in the books that they sell. I kept that in the back of my mind as I went out to perform my experiment. I chose to explore a Barnes & Noble during a visit to my mother, hence it was not my local Barnes & Noble. She lives in an area that is fairly diverse, but with my prejudice in hand, I expected to find her store to be lacking in diversity. I am willing to admit when I am wrong, and in this instance, I was. I was quite surprised how diverse their selection was. A number of books by authors of color were facing frontwards, and even Amy Tan was highlighted at the check out.
Coe Booth, an author I’ve actually never seen stocked at Barnes & Noble before, was! I turned her novel, Bronxwood, frontward so she’d been seen more. In fact, I did that for a few other books.
Malinda Lo’s Adaptation was a standout, facing frontward at the top of the Teen Fantasy shelf. There was only one copy there, but I’d like to believe that it was the last copy left instead of the only.
All was not sunshine and roses, though. Ellen Oh’s “Warrior” was no where to be seen and even though Tahereh Mafi and Marissa Meyer had books come out on the same day, both popular series mind you, Marissa Meyer’s book was on the New Teen Releases shelf at the front of the store, while Tahereh Mafi’s book was in the Teen section.
Overall, I was quite surprised at the diversity I found in my mother’s Barnes & Noble, which supported what other folks had mentioned to me about their Barnes & Noble. However, I think B&N can do better and I intend to visit a few more B&Ns to get an accurate depiction of the large chain’s diversity. I hope that maybe I was just having an off day that chilly day in January and that the other stores I visit do better.
I’ll have another report ready for you in March.