|Leah (l.) and Bea Koch|
In a new report on the state of racial diversity in romance publishing, Bea and Leah Koch, owners of the romance-only bookstore The Ripped Bodice in Los Angeles, Calif., have found that in 2017, for every 100 books published by the leading romance publishers, "only 6.2 were written by people of color." This marks a decrease from last year's survey by the Koch sisters, which reported that in 2016, 7.8 out of every 100 books published by the leading romance publishers were written by people of color.
80% of surveyed publishers had fewer than 10% of their books written by people of color, while half of surveyed publishers released either the same amount of titles by people of color or fewer in 2017 as compared to 2016. Publisher Crimson Romance had the highest percentage in 2017 of titles published by writers of color; its rate of 29.3% marked an increase of 17% over its rate in 2016.
The sisters released the findings of their initial survey last fall, and plan to release more reports annually. So far, they said, many publishers have had a "decidedly muted response." But while it was disheartening to see a decline, they added that they remain hopeful that in the years ahead "publishers will have no choice but to improve because their customers will demand it."