Illustrating the ‘Fiction Gap’
- A bookstore makes a vivid statement by reorganising its fiction section so all titles by male writers have their spines facing the wall
Mar 10, 2017-
A bookshop in Ohio has made a graphic illustration of the position of female writers by leaving only books by women visible to its customers. The change, made to mark women’s history month, has provoked an angry reaction in some quarters, with accusations of sexism and censorship.
Eight members of staff at Loganberry Books in Cleveland turned the spines and covers of books by men to face the wall in the shop’s 10,000-title fiction section. Harriett Logan, the bookstore’s founder and owner, told the website Heat Street the intention was to illustrate how women’s voices were drowned out.
“In essence [we are] not just highlighting the disparity but bringing more focus to the women’s books now, because they’re the only ones legible on the shelf,” she told the online magazine. She added that although she had conceived the display to make a point, when completed it had an even stronger impact than she had
A sign in front of the display says: “Illustrating the fiction gender gap … we’ve silenced male authors, leaving works of women in view.” Loganberry is a feminist bookshop that retails new, used and rare books with an emphasis on women’s history and literature. The move is intended to be a conspicuous illustration of the current representation of women in print.
However, not all reactions were positive, with complaints that Logan should be running a “men’s history month” to balance the promotion, and that the display was not about women’s voices, but about “hating men”. Editor and writing coach John Ettorre tweeted: “Simply unbelievable. Promoting women’s voices by symbolically silencing men’s. By an independent bookstore! Shame on you, Harriett.”
Logan responded to Ettorre’s comments by inviting him to the shop. “Come visit,” she tweeted back. “It is quite striking—eye opening. and, obviously, temporary.”
But another commenter gave short shrift to the naysayers: “Get over it. It’s almost like those ‘art’ pieces where they organised books by binding colours in a bookstore, except this does make a point—and the books are still there…The question will be [whether] the publicity keeps sales at or above average for this time of year—if not, I doubt it will be repeated.”
Published: 10-03-2017 11:22