News: African-American Books in Today’s Marketplace

by Felicia Pride — Publishers Weekly, 12/14/2009 2:00:00 AM

The economy stinks. Book sales are down marginally. Media outlets (and their book review sections) are being shut down at an alarming rate. Oh, and the last time we checked, no one has uncovered the secret to creating an automatic bestseller. All these issues are as pertinent to the African-American book market as they are to the larger American book industry. But what does all of this mean specifically for the African-American book market now and in the future?

Among a variety of responses to this question, it means that editors are becoming very cautious about the books they acquire; it means consumers of African-American–oriented titles may rate pricing more important than whether they buy it at a black book store; and it also means that even the endless demand for more street lit may be slowing down and publishers need to find new categories to target for African-American readers. Publishers Weekly spoke to a variety of book publishing professionals—editors, publishers, marketers, booksellers, and an author or two—to find out how they are responding to the contemporary African American market for books.

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