Barnes & Noble is under fire for attempting to celebrate Black History Month with what many are saying was a racist and misguided attempt.
Announced at the start of February, the move involved “Diverse Editions” of 12 classic novels, which included “Alice in Wonderland,” “Frankenstein,” and “Moby Dick.”
Each edition was remade with “new covers promoting diversity,” according to Publisher’s Weekly that feature multiple mixed-race couples in several “Romeo & Juliet” versions along with a Black Frankenstein as the cover art.
But artwork quickly made many upset with comments like:
“This is corporate liberalism. The conservative ideal would be for them to promote books written by black authors.”
“Good job you managed to make diversity look racist, a real talent of white America!”
“Imagine doing this with, say, movies. Imagine putting out a movie poster and trailer with an all-black cast but *actually* when you sit down to watch the movie, it’s an all-white cast. And with some racist content thrown in. How many people green-lit this idea?”
“They can make a lot from free public domain books by long-dead authors that they can just publish without paying anyone, which is what all of these are.”
But on Wednesday afternoon, the bookseller released a public statement to Twitter that explained how it would cancel the “Diverse Editions” after reading through the “expressed concerns” of readers.
“The covers are not a substitute for black voices or writers of color, whose work and voices deserve to be heard,” the statement said. “The booksellers who championed this initiative did so convinced it would help drive engagement with these classic titles.”