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The 2020 Ripped Bodice Diversity in Publishing Report Sees Slight Improvement

By Lori Perkins

This year marks the fifth year that The Ripped Bodice, the country’s first all-romance bookstore (located in Los Angeles) has published its annual Diversity in Romance Report, and while there is some improvement, the figures aren’t ground-breaking, which is why you only see these results reported in places like RDN and Publisher’s Weekly.

Sisters Bea and Leah Koch surveyed 2,203 books released by 16 publishers of romance. The Diversity Report focuses on the race of the authors being published by both the Big Five publishing companies and independent romance publishers, but does not cover indie authors.

In an article about the survey in Publishers Weekly, the bookselling sisters wrote, “Looking at the data, we see bright spots, but the overall trend is one of sluggish and inconsistent commitment by publishers to publishing more romance books by authors of color.”

They acknowledged that Kensington is the publisher with the largest number of diverse authors over the past year, and the most consistent. The sisters added that, “in 2020, only Carina, Forever Romance, Kensington, and St. Martin’s had at least 15% of their romance titles written by people of color. Across five imprints, HarperCollins released more than 1,000 romance titles in 2020, and 8% of those books were written by authors of color.” They also noted “Berkley Books, the romance imprint of Penguin Random House, had a steady increase in racial diversity over four years, only to see a decrease in 2020.”

In the report on their website, the booksellers noted that this year, “The numbers are frequently erratic; while we may see some improvements in one publisher’s numbers from one year to the next, there is a lack of consistent, year-over-year improvement across the industry to diversify the authors they publish.”

They added, “2020 brought a new round of statements from publishers affirming their commitment to anti-racism and dismantling white supremacist structures within publishing. But we continue to see and be troubled by the discrepancy between corporate statements and the number of authors of color who are published and therefore compensated by these companies.”

The sisters encourage readers to view the Diversity report at their website, as well as the reports over the past 5 years. Click here for the survey,

Ripped Bodice Bestsellers 2020

Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore

Deal with the Devil by Kit Rocha

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

A Cowboy to Remember by Rebekah Weatherspoon

The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite

Xeni: A Marriage of Inconvenience by Rebekah Weatherspoon

Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev

Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert

The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa

Click here for the survey,


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