In the first major case where a publisher has changed a jacket in response to pointed feedback from bloggers and other early readers, Bloomsbury Children’s Books announced today that it will re-jacket the hardcover edition of Liar by Justine Larbalestier. The YA novel lit up the blogosphere in June and July, when early readers and then the author blogged about their dissatisfaction that a feminine white girl was on the cover even though the book is about a black tomboy. The controversy has already brought considerable attention to the novel, which has a 100,000 copy announced first print and has received positive early reads.
The decision to revise the hardcover jacket is a reversal for Bloomsbury, which at first defended the original image, although the house also said it would revise the paperback jacket. But in a new statement to PW, Bloomsbury officials said:
““We regret that our original creative direction for Liar—which was intended to symbolically reflect the narrator’s complex psychological makeup—has been interpreted by some as a calculated decision to mask the character’s ethnicity. In response to this concern, and in support of the author’s vision for the novel, Bloomsbury has decided to re-jacket the hardcover edition with a new look in time for its publication in October. It is our hope that the important discussions about race and its representation in teen literature continue. As the publisher of Liar, we also hope that nothing further distracts from the quality of the author’s nuanced and accomplished story, and that a new cover will allow this novel’s many advocates to celebrate its U.S. publication without reservation.”
The decision came at some cost to the publisher, since the book is already well into production and goes on sale September 29.
Here’s the old jacket:
Here’s the new jacket: