National Book Award winners Sherman Alexie and Jacqueline Woodson will be among the featured speakers at BookCon 2015.
A year after receiving strong criticism for only inviting white authors as featured panelists, BookCon is teaming with the advocacy group We Need Diverse Books for two gatherings that will showcase authors of various backgrounds.
ReedPop, the pop culture arm of Reed Exhibitions and the producer of BookCon, announced Thursday that one discussion will focus on science-fiction and fantasy while the other will focus on children's literature. Besides Alexie, a Native American, and Woodson, an African-American, guests will include such prize-winning authors as David Levithan and Kameron Hurley, who are white.
"I see a willingness to change and a hunger for change," Woodson, winner of a National Book Award last month for her young-adult memoir "Brown Girl Dreaming," said during a recent television interview.
"We Need Diverse Books is focusing on trying to make change happen, getting more interns of color in publishing houses and getting more books by writers of color."
We Need Diverse Books began last spring as a social media campaign in response to BookCon's all-white guest list and quickly attracted worldwide interest. On its website, it defines itself as a "grassroots organization created to address the lack of diverse, non-majority narratives in children's literature." Woodson serves on the advisory committee for the organization.
Diversity has been a growing source of discussion in an industry where virtually all publishers, editors, agents and booksellers are white.
BookCon was founded last year as a fan-based companion to the publishing industry's annual national convention, BookExpo America. For 2015, BookCon has been expanded from one day to two and will take place May 30-31 in Manhattan at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. BookExpo America will precede BookCon at the Javits Center, being held May 27-29.