Common Sense & Thomas Sowell – by Amanda S. Green

Common Sense & Thomas Sowell – by Amanda S. Green

 

Say the name Thomas Sowell to many liberals and you will quickly see them searching for ways to condemn him. He’s a well-respected, extremely well-educated person of color (to use the term du jour) who refuses to be a victim. Worse, he refuses to parrot the party line. Instead, he looks at history. He studies the facts. Then—gasp—he applies common sense. How dare he do anything but fall into whatever pre-ordained category they want to shuffle him off into.

Another reason the Left would dearly love to silence him is because his writing is easily readable by just about anyone. Don’t get me wrong. He can write an academic paper or book to rival anyone. But he can also take a serious topic and write about it in such a way the average person can not only understand the facts—and the implications—but enjoy reading about it. That is dangerous, at least to the other side. They don’t want the Average Joe reading facts and the considering the implications of what the Left’s policies might bring.

Sowell’s Controversial Essays is an excellent example of this. As I noted in an earlier post, this book is a collection of some of Professor Sowell’s newspaper essays and comments. Some may be years old, but the message still stands. And, unlike some of his other books, these are quick reads and organized in a way you can pick and choose what you want to read at the time.

But back to common sense.

One of Professor Sowell’s essays in the book is “Racial Profiling of Authors”. The title itself is enough to make you stop and do a double-take. After all, as Sowell points out in the first paragraph, police departments aren’t supposed to racially profile people. So why in the world are authors being racially profiled? And by whom?

The answer to the second question is easy and the professor answers it in the first paragraph. This profiling is being made by publishers and bookstores. At the time Sowell wrote the essay, they were a bit more subtle about it than they are now. But more on that later.

In this case, Sowell became aware of it when he discovered his book, Migrations and Cultures, filed away in the black studies section. To say it brought the professor up short is probably putting it mildly. After all, the book is about migrations “from Europe and Asia”. So why in the world was it in the black studies section?

The only answer that makes sense—because Professor Sowell is black.

Some people may actually think that they are doing black writers a favor by setting up a black authors’ section of a bookstore. But, with friends like these, who needs enemies? Black writers, like white writers, want their books to reach the readers—and anything that interferes with that is bad news. (CE, p. 281)

Put books where the readers don’t expect to find them. Kill sales. Blame everything but the stupidity behind the shelving.

The mindset behind this sort of product placement is baffling. Most readers don’t know what the author looks like, much less what race or ethnic background the author might come from. So to place a book that isn’t obviously about “black studies” or whatever in that section is to throttle the sales pipeline down to the trickle.

What had me rolling my eyes so hard they damned near fell out of my head was this:

The ridiculous lengths to which publishers can carry racial profiling was demonstrated to me when copies of my recently published book Basic Economics were sent out to Jet magazine, the Amsterdam News and other black publications. After I complained, copies were then sent to the Wall Street Journal and other publications dealing with economics. (CE, pg. 282)

Think about that for a minute. A book about economics by one of this country’s most famous voices on the topic at the time was NOT sent to the WSJ. But the publishers damn sure made certain the media outlets that catered to audiences with the same skin color as the author got copies. Of course, it didn’t matter if those outlets actually dealt with serious economic topics or not.

And publishing wonders why readers aren’t buying books in the numbers they want.

Since Professor Sowell wrote his essay, we’ve seen things go even further in publishing. Not only do bookstores continue their attempts to segregate books according to the sex or race or even religion in some instances of the author, without taking into account the content of the books, publishers and writers have really gotten into the movement as well. We’ve seen writers trying to start movements where they will only read things written by writers of a certain flavor for a whole year. Why? Because that flavor has been “marginalized” and we shouldn’t be reading anything by white, cis-male authors.

Forget about content, forget about reader desires. It is all about appearances any more.

Publishers have thrown in with this as well. Anthologies are proudly being promoted where you need only submit if you fall into a small segment of writers. You might need to be female and POC. You might need to be a non-normative sexually identified person. As long as you identify as a “marginalized” person for whatever, you might fit—if you are marginalized in the right way.

And, again, it is all about who and what the author is and not about the quality of the work or—gasp—about what the readers who will be buying the book want.

Professor Sowell nails it here:

You have reached the holy grail of “diversity” when you have black leftists, white leftists, female leftists and Hispanic leftists as professors. Major corporations across the country have their affirmative action officials and many also have “diversity consultants” who come in and harangue the employees with the politically correct party line on race. Not since the days when the Nazis spoke of “Jewish science” has the idea been so widespread that race is destiny as far as ideas are concerned. (CE, pg. 283)

And yet we are the Nazis.

Sowell’s economic common sense about this topic is such that it drives the “enlightened” up a wall. They refuse to admit that this attempt to shine a light on the marginalized in publishing (gag me) actually is holding them back. It limits the visibility of their books in bookstores by placing titles in areas where readers don’t know to look for them. It limits visibility online because publishers first list the book according to agenda and not topic.

But if we dare speak out about this or question it, we are condemned. We’ve seen it over and over, especially in recent years. We are the ones called names and told we are the problem. They accuse us of having blinders on when their own blinders are so firmly affixed that they can’t see the problems inherent in their attempts to even the playing field.

As Sowell points out in many of his essays, the attempt to help often leads to more problems than it solves. Once again, he’s right. Not that publishers or those so busy screeching about the evils of white males in publishing, politics or anything else will hear.

What they don’t get is they have started a conflict without knowing the rules. They’ve entered a war without considering what will happen when the other side finally has said “enough is enough”. The fact they are now starting to turn on their own shows how desperate they are to remain relevant—not that they ever really were—and to maintain power in a failing industry.

So what do we do?

We persevere.

We speak out.

We know what they are saying and we counter in the same way Professor Sowell and others like him do—calmly, with history and facts and common sense.

Why?

We will never convince the most rabid of the other side that they are anything but right. However, as we saw in the 2016 election, there are so many who aren’t happy with where the Left has been taking our country. Some sit on the fence, enticed by the promises but knowing, deep inside that something isn’t right. The promises sound too good. It is our job to tell them why and to give them a reason to trust us. That reason is, well, reason.

It is time for preparation.

It is time for education.

It is time for the silent majority to drown out the screeching voices of the few who would turn our country into something that would make our founding fathers weep over.

And how long will it be before someone from the other side twists this call for a protection of liberty into a cry to return to a male patriarchal society where women are kept barefoot, pregnant in and the kitchen with slaves in the field? After all, they are so good at telling us what we mean even when it is the furthest thing from the truth.

It is time to take the narrative back from them. The media, at least the legacy media, is dying. Their subscription numbers prove it. The falling viewership numbers do as well. People are turning to blogs and alternative media sites and, believe it or not, conversations with others to become informed. So let’s inform.

Let’s do our best imitation of Professor Sowell and others like him.

*Here’s a link to Amanda’s Paypal, should you wish to tip her. Also, as a note, for those who wish to support this blog there is a pay-pal-me link on the upper right for casual donations to me. And there is a paypal link for those wishing to subscribe because like me, if it’s a “hit the button whenever” they’ll never remember. For those divesting themselves from paypal (I’m not going to argue with you. I know you have cause. It’s just that right now I fail to see a better alternative that isn’t tainted in a similar way) this blog also accepts cash and check support. See the address for Goldport Press inside any of my indie books and mail there, or email me for an address.  Thank you. Any contribution greatly appreciated. Yes, I can support myself, but this year is a transition year in many ways and also for some reason one where we’ve experienced several expensive contretemps (Disasters really, even if problems that can be solved with money aren’t real disasters.) – SAH*

124 responses to “Common Sense & Thomas Sowell – by Amanda S. Green

  1. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Common Sense isn’t.

    Common that is. 😉

    • It’s because it’s working off a definition of “common” that isn’t widely used anymore—IOW, “peasant sense.” And these days, you’d be hard-pressed to find any real peasants outside the homeless population in the U.S.

      A peasant knows better than to stand in kicking range of a horse or cow, but a noble wouldn’t necessarily know the danger offhand…

    • C.S. Lewis’s Studies in Words has a chapter on Sense. As good as the rest.

  2. I noticed that the new jacket copy for Octavia Butler’s books plays up her race and not that some of her books are really well written. (I say some because everyone has an off day.) I don’t agree with a lot of her ideas, but I’d much rather see jacket copy emphasizing her stories, not her ancestry.

    • That doesn’t surprise me at all. It’s much more important to push the agenda than to actually push how well someone has done something.

    • You mean: really well written for a black woman, don’t you?

      Because that is what the publishers believe you to mean. Not that many of them would know a well-written book from artsy-fartsy gibberish.

    • Octavia Butler consistently gives me nightmares, so I can’t actually be bothered to notice if her writing is “good.” (And after going three for three on sweatsoaked terror-filled nights, I am not going to read anything else from her oeuvre.)

      Of course, being scarier than Stephen King is not a quality that is valued by the lit’rary authorities.

      • Do not remember the Author (rarely do unless it is someone I read regularly), but “Relic”, reading it scared the living hell out of me (stayed up til 3 am to finish it just to have the conclusion so nightmares wouldn’t be as bad). Thus when the movie trailer came out (don’t remember what we were seeing that had the preview), hubby said “That looks fun.” My response. “No. Just No. Read the book. Scared the hell out of me. No. Not seeing it.” … never have, never will. Not a big fan of horror anyway. This was marketed under thriller … won’t disagree, but damn.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          I’m guessing but I’d bet it was Relic by Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child 😉

          • You’d win. Sequel (book) wasn’t as scary. Kind of – that’s been done, no matter how exotic … See, I recognize the Authors as belonging to the book, but not something I can come up with unless it is in my library (ebooks now, then it was paperback). They are a combo I have picked up beyond that one book, but not authors I go out of my way to get. Currently they are on the “okay, maybe, I’ll see, if it is on the cheap Bookbud list …”

      • I tried one book and bounced off hard. Trying to tell me that the sort of adolescent philosophizing I indulged in myself really is wise does not convince me.

    • I have been reading science fiction since the early 60s and had no idea that Butler was black. Who’s next… Asimov?

      • No, there are ample con reports that Asimov was straight, white cis-male. Which makes his Dr. Susan Calvin tales … problematic.

        I suspect there is an untapped wealth of #MeToo tales from cons that could destroy the genre … and that’s without touching the MZB scandal.

  3. glad we don’t have to support Amanda’s drinking habit anymore in an attempt to bleach her brain of the obvious nonsense perpetuated in some of her other reading material. 😉

    • Only for the moment. Uncle Car has gifted me with some real “winners” that I’ll do after some mind cleansing Sowell.

      • Lar. LOL. Now you’ll start the Vilers speculating on how you’re being sponsored by Orson Scott Card….

        • Hey, can I help it if stupid autocorrect changes things?

          • Well, we all know that you and Sarah are really Mormon men, so… *evil kitty grin*

            • With great racks. You can’t forget that part. 😉

              • Pictures or it didn’t happen.

              • As long as said racks aren’t causing you back and neck problems. I’m playing nurse and aid this week for my better half who got reduced on Monday. Heh. Comic book and fantasy heroines never seem to have problems with gravity, leverage, moment arms, or squeezing into tight places.

                • Does that mean that comic book and fantasy heroines are really a gas?

                  • I have often wondered at the tendency of comic book heroines — especially those, such as Black Canary, lacking any form of super-strength or invulnerability — engaging in street brawls while wearing fishnet stockings and spike heels.

                    Are they not aware that fishnet stockings are a very poor protection against sidewalk rashes? Have they never experienced the tendency (especially in hot weather) of spiked heels to embed in asphalt?

                    For that matter, how does Supergirl shave her legs? Sure, heat vision works for some parts, but only those she can see.

                    At least Catwoman’s costume is not absurdly impractical.

            • Some poor souls even say I’m human.
              I think they mean it as a compliment, but I’m never sure.

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                Well, you’re more human than some Lefties. 😀

                • That is a mighty damned low bar. I suspect some bacteria might even qualify by that standard.

                • That Drak is what we refer to as damning with faint praise. Orvan Taurus is as human as I am. Hmm, maybe this is not going as I had hoped…

                  • Er.. how had you hoped, if I dare ask?

                  • Getting into argument over who is or is not human is a practice I endeavor to avoid. It rarely ends well.

                    “Are you a good person?” is a discussion topic* less** likely to result in wide-spread oppression, destruction, and death.

                    *Although for many on the Militant Left the two topics are equivalent, proving they are not good persons.

                    **Should you employ the Oxford Comma is also a topic less likely to result in wide-spread oppression, destruction, and death, although not as much less likely as many might hope.

      • So this is just chicken soup for the Sowell?

        • *Fwapshhhh* Carp away!

        • I await Chicken Soup for the Stomach.
          I expect I’ll be waiting a long time, as it makes some sense.

        • She’s treating her indigestion (of leftist drivel) with some Sowell food.

          • The Restaurant across the street from the bike shop I worked in in NOLA had a pretty mean Smotha’d Poke Chop
            Our Jewish boss claimed it was even Kosher!

            • I read a story in _Matzoh-ball Gumbo_, a cookbook of Southern Jewish food and history, about a (fictional, but…) gent who was stopped by security at the airport because he had four sets of false teeth. When asked, he explained, “These are Kosher-milchig, those are Kosher-fleischig, those are for Passover.”

              Security: “And the fourth pair?”

              Gentleman [with a large smile]: “Bar-b-que!”

            • Many years ago there was a cardiologist of the Jewish persuasion in Lynchburg who loved that “red roast beef” that always was served on hot rolls at any and all good social gatherings. He was apparently quite insistent that it was *not* Smithfield Ham regardless of what misapprehensions the host or hostess might have. (Well before my time, but I’ve heard the story from multiple unrelated reliable sources).

        • It’s her Sowell respite from the other crap she reads for us.

      • Shush! You weren’t supposed to reveal my alias.
        So in return I will double down on my efforts while out and about in cyberspace to snag even more real stinkers for your edification and amusement.

        • Whiffs of Love by Pepe Le Pew?

          • What can I say, I have sketchy associations that give me access to “review” copies of all those tell all books that are the darlings of trad pub. You know, the ones that get a million dollar advance and hit the remaindered table two weeks later.
            In my defense, Amanda started it with her most excellent fisks of really terrible books by truly disgusting people.
            I felt offended to think that she was actually paying good money for those books, even off the remaindered table, so whenever I run across one I sent it on for her amusement.

            • It is useful to keep in mind that many books are simply ways of funneling money to the coffers of approved politicians. Part of the reason so many [people] are running for the Democrat presidential nomination is that even losing candidates can be confident of major book deals. Is it likely any publisher would consider a Kamala Harris children’s book worth a large advance were she not running for president?

              It is all about building a brand.

  4. Off topic, but just found this: https://nationalpost.com/opinion/colby-cosh-heinleins-monster-the-literary-key-to-elon-musks-sales-technique (It’s about Heinlein’s “The Man Who Sold The Moon”–D. D. Harriman.)

    • tregonsee314

      For the author of that particular piece I have two words :
      “Well DUH”!

      • It should be kept in mind that an appalling lot of people have never read or even heard of Heinlein — and if this column corrects this failing in even 5% of its readers, that falls into the category of “Good Things.”

        • I do appreciate the classic book cover the article employs.

        • tregonsee314

          Point taken especially if the author is under 40. I would say if you had any interest in the original space race when it was under way you at least knew of Heinlein, Clarke, Bradbury and perhaps Asimov (if you weren’t gulping them down whole). And as for his complaint about Heinlein not using computers, pretty much NO ONE got that right. Without the Space (and Ballistic Missile) race the miniaturization necessary to make computers common place might have gone at a MUCH slower pace.

          • Wait. Were they using computers in the Apollo Capsule? Sure ground control was. But even when I started college (AFTER the last moon landing), calculators were just hitting that were barely beyond adding machines. Programmable ones started hitting college level my junior year. PC’s were another 5 to 10 years, let alone sewing machine size laptops; granted the space program likely had them first, but … So Heinlein and other SF space writers got it mostly right, short term. Huge ground computers, but space flight pilots depended either on calculations from ground crew using the ground computers, or slide rules or equivalent. Long term no. But then even as the computer industry has evolved, it has evolved so fast, no one could predict what was coming, or what is coming, it is still wide open. Heck, who predicted common every day mobile phones, well before party lines were gone, let alone non-tethered handsets?

  5. “A good horse is never a bad color.”

    It is also true that a good human is never a bad color.* (Or race, or sex, or gender, or whatever…)

    Thus a good author is never a bad color, etc.

    That said, scoundrels DO come in ALL colors.

    * Alright, a cyanotic human is a bad color, but that’s because that human is in dire need of medical intervention.

  6. Uh. You mean authors are human? Since when? 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    I rarely know the cultural background of the writer of any book. Even pictures of the author on book jackets are suspect, let alone name. After all either could be fronts. Pictures when used, probably not. But most books I read don’t show the author’s picture. Name? I know of multiple authors that use different names base on on the genre classification of the book. Author name implies gender, but doesn’t give out gender. Lord knows, I have no idea of personal life, or even religion, even if the book is screaming projection … hey how do I know the author isn’t doing that deliberately. Just because I can’t write perspectives not my own, I know it can be, and is, done. People proven here on this blog every Sunday. Give them a picture, phrase, or just a word, and they spin immediately entire paragraphs or pages.

    I mean come on already. Based on “you can only write what you know” theory, I know of authors that must be all of the following: Vampires, Werewolf, Elf, Gnome, Wizard, Space Pilot, Space Marine, law enforcement, criminal (but redeemable), and either gender of each, depending on which book’s main character.

    HELL, Except for a few on this blog, based on prior conversations, if they are being honest, I can guess gender. I have no idea of race or religion, or even gender spouse preference. Not that I try very hard. Not relevant to the conversation (*generally).

    * I mean come on. Being IN child birth labor VS witnessing. Former is gender specific, latter … can be anybody (don’t care what the left is touting). OTOH culture, skin color, and religion, are 100% irrelevant.

    • Not knowing the author’s identity? That’s nonsense! look at how successful the Richard Castle books remain even after the series has gone off the air (with a loud THUD). Yet new books in his Nikki Heat and Derrick Storm series continue to appear. And we all know he looks just like Mal Reynolds!

      • Who?

        🙂

        • The Doctor?

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Castle

          While Richard Castle is a fictional character (TV series titled Castle), there have been books published under the Richard Castle name. 😉

          • Jessica Fletcher also put out a fair number of mystery novels in this world. But the Castle books are funny parodies, as well as being meta fanfic (ie, the character Castle puts all his friends into his books, so the knowledgeable reader gets a Castle book as well as a book by Castle). And they take place in a consistent world with a story arc of sorts, so it’s got all kinds of readability.

          • Seen the show. Was kind of being sarcastic (ish).

            Figured there were books based on the show. Did not know someone had gone tongue in cheek and had the fictional character author books. Not a genre I typically follow.

      • I have a story in a shared universe with a friend (we were continuing the stories of our characters after the tabletop RPG folded) where one of the characters is browsing in an offworld bookstore that specialized in mysteries and finds a V.I. Warshawski novel with Nathan Fillion’s name written in it in the rare book section. She didn’t recognize the name and the bookseller remarked that he had something to do with the novelist Richard Castle.

        I thought it was hilarious, but my writing partner didn’t follow the show so didn’t get it.

    • In some of me earlier reading it was plain that there THREE races, but the racial lines could be crossed.

      The races?

      Author
      Editor
      Reader

      And unless you catch any of them in the act or admitting to it, they cannot be told apart. An Author that Edits and also Reads? Trans-Racial before the term was invented to cover nonsensical attempted virtue-signalling situations.

      Alright, some claim that one of those Races might be a different Species. While I suppose that might bother some, I figure even if it were true folks around here care more about competence than genetics.

  7. Never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity. Publishers engage in author profiling because that seems the “safe” thing to do. If a book by Thomas Sowell, Walter E Williams or Ken “The Black Avenger” Hamblin* is put out in the “General Reader” sections and doesn’t sell** that could result in the people responsible for marketing it answering awkward questions. If it gets put into the “proper” section and doesn’t sell, well, that is the author’s fault even if the author wasn’t writing that book for that audience. No questions need be answered.

    It isn’t simply authors of color/gender/whatever that run into this problem. I remember discussions back in the day in Baen’s Bar over book stores putting John Ringo’s Ghost in the SF/F section rather than among the Thrillers. Because of certain, shall we say, prurient content the book should not have been put where the casual SF/F reader might chance upon it and learn about things their parents were not yet ready for them to know; the Thrillers section carried a patina of greater maturity which helped protect against angry mobs of torch-bearing child-protectors hunting down authors.

    And it isn’t simply publishing*** where we see this behaviour. Anybody who has gone through business school knows the Marketing students are not the brightest bulbs in the chandelier. Most of them don’t actually understand how markets work, most have far too many products to promote to expend effort on careful consideration of individual products in their company’s line. They take the safe routes, follow established patterns and avoid all risk of explaining original thought.

    *It was from his radio show in the ’90s that I first learned of this publisher/book store tendency. He encouraged listeners to prod stores to place his Pick a Better Country in the general reader sections.

    **Or worse, sells too many copies

    ***The music industry may be even worse, and the film and Television folk are even more brain-damaged. The contempt they hold for the consumers of their product is one of the greatest (and most poorly contained) secrets of those industries. The consumption of vast amounts of drugs (including alcohol) by the tillers of those fields does not help. people are so desperate to consume entertainment that it requires herculean effort to drive customers away (but those industries are proving themselves equal to the challenge.)

    • Every time I think a certain Giant Franchise Eating Company has hit they stops on consumer contempt, it says, “Hold my pixiedust and watch this!” Because the skin tone of the voice actor is so much more important than their ability and how well their particular voice fits the character in question. *facepaw*

      • Until you said “voice” actor I thought this was a comment about the casting of an actress for the live-action The Little Mermaid film who doesn’t look in the least like the original animated character. But you’re clearly talking about something I’m not yet aware of. *Sigh*… what have they done this time??

        • Feather Blade

          I suspect it’s a general comment on how the Outrage Brigade keeps insisting that if an animated character is [insert color here], the voice actor must also be of a matching color.

          • But animals also must have minority voice actors.

            I have no problem with saying that “X could be anybody, so I feel like picking these voice actors I like, or these young voice actors I want to give some business.”

          • So, since Simba is orange, does that mean they need to get Donald Trump to play him in the remake?

        • The actor voicing Scar in the “live action” Lion King is OK, but doesn’t really have the… eh, the charisma and skill at messing with minds that Jeremy Irons did so well in the original.

          The furor over who plays the Little Mermaid? Yawn.

          • The really amazing bit is that the same voices who said “Of course Ariel can be played by a black actress!” are now hitting the roof about Cats because “how dare you cast a black woman [who just happens to be half black and one of the greatest ballerinas in the world] as a white cat!”

            Look, if Judi Dench can be “Old Deuteronomy,” Francesca Haywood can be Victoria. Pick a damn set of rules or prepare to be ignored.

            • Pick a set of rules? They have. Their one rule is that they are right and we are wrong. They are playing Major League TEGWAR — The Exciting Game Without Any Rules.

              [video src="http://pmd.cdn.turner.com/tcm/big/tcmweb/FILMCLIPS/2010/02/bangthedrumslowly_tegwar_FC_177a_24f_iphone.mp4" /]
              It is a fast-paced game with but one purpose: separating suckers from their money.

              • Well shucks, that video clip’s URL sure did not load properly!

                [video src="http://pmd.cdn.turner.com/tcm/big/tcmweb/FILMCLIPS/2010/02/bangthedrumslowly_tegwar_FC_177a_24f_iphone.mp4" /]

                There are times I suspect WP is playing much the same game.

                • Sigh. TEGWAR as played.


                  Youtube can at least be relied upon (usually) to appear on WP as intended.

            • The rule is, “The rule is whatever we say at any moment, retroactively, so we can always blame you.”

              • True. Does make me want to see them announce “Oh, well, since only a white person can play a white cat, then I guess we’ll fire her,” and watch the instantaneous 180s. We could even get lucky by it causing a few coronaries.

          • Alleged furor. Mostly virtue-signalling

    • Aye, on TV. I have only indirect (yet closer than most) exposure to a tiny bit of that. A certain late night show had a decent share of the 18-25 (or -35 or whatever) age range, male, viewership. BUT the execs decided that they wanted the same age range, but female, so the show had to retool. While the show is, somehow, still airing, I suspect it took a hit in numbers even if the transition was successful. As connections with such have if not been severed, grown quite weak, I have no idea – nor do I particularly care anymore.

  8. Donald Campbell

    Readers, of course, want good books. One would think publishers would want to sell good books. Apparently they do not. Objectively, we should all approve of diversity of authors and diversity of characters and protagonists, but, it is my money we are spending and the publishers seem all too willing to push substandard writing in the name of diversity. That is not the #1 item on my “what makes a good book” list. [Actually, it isn’t even on my list.]

    Now you’re telling me that good books exist that the publishers, though ignorance, bias, the racism of low expectations or diversity are actively misclassifying to hide them from me. I know it is sometimes a cross genre issue. Our own Stephanie Osborn, The Case of the Displaced Detective, is it mystery is it science fiction? Gasp! It is both. Apparently, even Amazon considers it a mystery. Historically, I don’t read mysteries. [Now that I am retired, and the many authors that comment here write much slower than I read, I have diversified somewhat (especially “cosy mysteries” involving intelligent cats or magical familiars)].

    What is a poor reader to do? I totally ignore traditional publishers unless I have already read the author. I totally ignore Hugo Award winners after 1995. Sadly, Amazon is more difficult than brick and mortar, simply because the available authors and titles are enormous. [A plug for good cover art: I purchase most from my 10″ Tab S4, because I like big color covers over the tiny B&W on my paperwhite. This confuses Amazon’s electronic delivery immensely.]

    • Well, I think I wrote good books, but judging from my sales numbers, I’m in the minority.

  9. The general Fiction section can also be a trap. Ursula K. LeGuin did write some Fiction, but she wrote a lot more sf/f. Before her death, she complained about her low sales on Amazon. But most of that was because one of her publishers never filled out any metadata or provided blurbs for her sf/f, and were running her sf/f books in Fiction. Also, they reissued the books under their control with generic covers consisting of flowery fields, and anybody would have thought it was a daily devotional or a happy little book of happy thoughts.

  10. Today I learned that giant ragweed was once a cultivated Native American crop, among the Archaic Indians, and even in the Moundbuilder period, up until corn caught on.

    Giant ragweed seeds are 47% protein. You can metabolize almost all of that, even before cooking, and so can wildlife and livestock. Having a stand around is great for fattening up wild pheasants and turkeys. The seeds can also be used as a balm against insect bites, etc.

    But they’re not good for you if you have allergies, and they can choke out corn. So once corn got popular, giant ragweed was no longer Miss Indian Farmer’s friend.

  11. when you have a book like this that you recommend, you should include an affiliate link to it

  12. About 15 years ago we were hiring a principal, and because the school wasn’t open yet, we met him for the first interview at the local library. He knew I wrote, so when he saw me carrying a stack of books by Thomas Sowell (one letter off my name), he jumped to a reasonable conclusion and asked, “Oh, are those your books?”

    All I could do was say, “I wish”, before explaining we didn’t exactly resemble each other…

  13. I have mixed feelings about the segregated sections in book stores. For my stint of book selling it was in a majority African American city. I often was asked by middle aged African American women were the books by African American authors were at as they wanted stories that called to them. In one way I could understand this, as I couldn’t relate to a number of the ‘slice of life’ novels with middle class WASP protagonists as it was as much a fantasy to my experience as stories with out right dragons. And oh yes, I am not using their own words, because whoo boy what I was told would damage the young ears of the outrage mob.

    The assistant manager got the approval to make an area for the books, and she carefully curated the section. I still remember how proud she was over it. She was African American if that makes a freaking difference. Our customers were appreciative, and it became very frequented. I left bookselling, so I was shocked to learn the section had turned into a dumping ground for any African American author regardless of the subject.

    • For things like “novels with local settings” or “romances of a specialized category,” it is absolutely good marketing to have separate sections. Bookstores knew that some people have very particular interests, or a set of very particular interests, and that it is easier to sell them stuff they like if they can glance at the shelf and see which books are new.

      “Urban romance”, or rather, romance marketed to African-Americans, is a very interesting romance category, because it is pretty much ruled by small presses and indie. Harlequin and other publishers dipped their toes into it, but the readers like having a wide variety of really different subgenres, not just one book a month. And the indies threw everything at the wall and found out most of it stuck. The only thing that seems to stay the same is that it’s almost entirely written by black Americans for black Americans. (Although sometimes they bring in Jamaican-Americans, immigrants from Africa, etc.)

      • The other interesting thing is that, unless other indie categories, a lot of these get carried on the Overdrive and Hoopla library apps.

      • I agree. It should have been left up to the stores and the managers. When the Asst Manager was in charge, the section was well stocked and sold well. I do remember going by about a year after we’d all moved on, and the thing was nearly gutted, with just a few of the mainstream school reading list on it.

        The “urban romance” which are indie are more honest to the African American culture *I* used to live beside in parts of the inner city, like the ‘code talking/switching’.

  14. [i]Test…[/i]

  15. One of Professor Sowell’s essays in the book is “Racial Profiling of Authors”. The title itself is enough to make you stop and do a double-take.

    That made me do a double take, certainly, but not because I don’t understand what profiling he’s talking about. I was thinking, “Wait a sec, I thought this was a collection of earlier works. How is Thomas Sowell writing so accurately about the state of publishing in 2019?”

  16. Recently, the person in charge of obtaining graphic literary content for my local library announced proudly the she was from then on going to get product *only* generated by ‘marginalized artists’. My objection was ‘noted and logged’ (most likely because I am a cis white male).

    • “By favoring ‘marginalized artists’ are you not marginalizing other artists? What significant worthwhile content do ‘marginalized artists’ provide that other artists do not? Are Japanese artists ‘marginalized’ or do you recognize that they produce a majority of all graphic literature in the world? Depending on your answer I will have a follow-up question.”