The literary world is known for having some gender disparity in terms of its authors, but when you see the actual ratio before your very eyes, the reality seems so much more shocking.
In honor of Women’s History Month, Loganberry Books in Cleveland, Ohio decided to celebrate a little differently this year: they flipped all of the fiction books written by male authors backwards. The idea was to convey to their customers that literature is still very much dominated by men.
“I have been bookselling for over 20 years, and every year I have taken the time and effort to highlight women’s works for Women’s History Month in March,” Harriet Logan, the bookstore’s founder and owner, told BuzzFeed. “This year, I wanted to do something different, something that would highlight not just the good works by women, but also the disparity in the industry. As someone who tries to carry female authors, the effect is shocking.”
This is what the bookstore looked like before flipping all of the male-authored fiction books …
… and this is what it looked like after, with only the spines of female fiction authors displayed.
As you can see, there are a lot of white pages on display right now.
Logan says she was actually shocked to discover that only 37% of the books in her store were written by women, despite the fact that she makes a conscious effort to stock the place with as many female-authored books as possible.
The customers are learning quite a bit from the two-week social experiment.
“The customer response has been fantastic and warm,” Logan said. “Many people just stand there looking at the space, shaking their heads.”
Logan says that her goal with the project was simply to give her customers pause, and allow them to self-reflect on any biases within their own personal book collections, in the hopes that people will make a concerted effort to read and champion more books written by women.
“I want people to think: Is the gender gap really this uneven, and why? What does my personal library look like? What can be done to change this imbalance? And then go find a title by a female author you may or may not be familiar with — it’s easy to find them — and give it a try.”