Even in the world of literature, men are often considered more important and artistic authors. It’s known that the works of many female authors are left unpublished and the majority of books in libraries and bookstores are by male authors.
In fact, Loganberry Books, a bookstore in Cleveland, Ohio, wanted to demonstrate the frustrating reality of sexism in publishing and pass on an important message. On March 1, the bookstore turned every novel and book written by a male author around so that shoppers wouldn’t be able to view the books’ spines, each containing the title and writer’s name.
In honor of Women’s History Month, Loganberry sought to honor the female authors that broke the glass ceiling of writing and to convey just how biased the industry can be.
“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.”
The booksellers themselves were shocked by the results. More than half of the bookstore’s shelves were left blank, catching customers completely off guard. Logan tallied up that just 37% of the works of fiction in her store were written by women.
The bookstore constructed a live performance art project of re-shelving the books, and about 10,000 volumes written by men were flipped backward to hide their spines. Logan intends to keep the books in her bookstore displayed backward until March 15 for more viewing.
“The customer response has been fantastic and warm,” she said. “Many people just stand there looking at the space, shaking their heads.”
Loganberry Books has seen dramatic responses from readers and buyers, all pleased that her project was able to show everyone the truth behind the writing world.
“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,” said Logan.