Em's place

Writing, anxiety-wrangling, tea.

Some good news about Waterstones

By Emma on March 14, 2014

On February 20th (2014) I wrote a post on wanting a level playing field as a writer of science fiction and fantasy (who happens to be female).

The response to it was pretty amazing.

I wanted to let you know about what’s been going on since then.

After I wrote that post I wrote a private letter to Waterstones. It felt like the courteous thing to do. They responded and we’ve discussed the matter in calm and polite correspondence, which delights me in this age of internet rage.

After some discussion between us I’m delighted to let you know that the issue has been discussed at length with the SF & F buyer at Waterstones and they are going to raise internal awareness of the visibility of underrepresented authors and will ask booksellers to bear these issues in mind when choosing displays.

A positive step forward

I am delighted that Waterstones has acknowledged that action needs to be taken and are taking steps to raise awareness internally. I’m looking forward to seeing the impact of this in stores over the next few months.

Unconscious discrimination needs to be actively challenged and at the start of this process, it’s likely to feel forced and imperfect. I’m hoping that if Waterstones raise awareness and local stores make a conscious effort to create more balanced displays, eventually it won’t need to be a conscious process. It will become the norm that it should be. It will end the “but women / people of colour don’t write sci-fi/epic fantasy” crap that lingers on in some corners of the industry. I’m pretty certain it will increase the number of submissions to publishers from a wider range of people. It will mean authors who are routinely overlooked will have just as much chance to be discovered as anyone else.

Can you help me to support and encourage this change?

If your local Waterstones is putting together more balanced displays – or you yourself are putting those displays together – please, for the love of all that is fair in this world, take a picture and tell everyone if you possibly can. Let’s take photos and share them and cheer it on. Either share the pics or send a link to me on Twitter (@emapocalyptic) or drop a link in the comments below. When a store makes a conscious effort to redress the balance, I want us all to stand up and applaud a positive change. Goodness knows we need some good news in this world.

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{ 4 comments... read them below, or add one }

  1. Martin says:

    Hurrah! You rock. And now Waterstones will rock a little more too.

  2. Paul Weimer (@princejvstin) says:

    Emma, you rock.

  3. Hi Emma

    Following your original post I went into to my local Waterstones to look at the display noted the same thing and spoke to the person on section raising my concerns. Not sure if I’ve seen a difference yet though!

  4. […] is being made on this last point, as reported by Emma Newman and indicated by Foyles’ assurances to Sophia McDougall, and I am delighted by that. But […]

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