Is This Cover Offensive?

PW cover 185x250Publishers Weekly, the leading trade publication for the American book industry, is not a magazine that comes to mind when you think “racial drama.” A magazine of its ilk doesn’t have much reason to push the envelope; it’s simply there to keep its readers abreast of news and reviews from the book publishing biz. So, when PW made headlines this week for an edgy cover image, a lot of folks probably did a double take. Publishers Weekly stirring up controversy? Go figure.

But the image of an African American woman with a slew of Afro picks in her natural hair under the coverline “Afro Picks!” has been controversial indeed. The photo is connected to PW’s cover story on African American literature and was the brainchild of Calvin Reid, an African American editor at the periodical. Nevertheless, many readers have expressed dismay over the cover.