A writer has more chance of making it into the bestseller charts if their name is David than if they are from an ethnic minority, according to new analysis from The Bookseller magazine which found a “shockingly low” number of books by British BAME (black, asian and minority ethnic) authors in the top 500 titles of the year to date.
Looking at last week’s book charts, the magazine found one book by a person of colour in the official UK top 50 – American author Paul Beatty’s The Sellout, which had just won the Man Booker prize. The first title by a British writer of colour, Matthew Syed’s look at the secrets of success, Black Box Thinking, was in 368th place.
But The Bookseller, which focused on diversity in publishing in the UK in its latest issue, found that last week was “not a one-off”. When it considered the top 100 bestselling titles for the year to date, there was just one British BAME author in the list – Kazuo Ishiguro with his novel The Buried Giant, which had sold just over 100,000 copies to make 59th place. By contrast, the list of 100 titles, The Bookseller pointed out, featured 11 books by authors called David. The next UK BAME author was Dorothy Koomson, in 156th place with the commercial novel That Girl from Nowhere, with Syed’s Black Box Thinking the third and final author in the top 300, in 169th place with sales of just over 57,000 copies. Read more