The owner of Robinsons Bookshop chain in Melbourne, Susanne Horman, voiced dissatisfaction regarding the lack of books featuring solely white children on their covers. Horman’s remarks, made via a series of tweets in December, called for a significant overhaul in Australian publishing to align more closely with perceived public sentiment and preferences.
She lamented the absence of positive male protagonists across different age groups, traditional narratives centered around white nuclear families, and children’s picture books devoid of representations such as wheelchairs, rainbows, or indigenous art. Additionally, Horman expressed a reluctance to stock books that she believed promoted hatred or division among Australians, citing a commitment to avoiding materials that could incite hatred.
However, these statements triggered a backlash on social media, with some users threatening to boycott Robinsons Bookshop. In response, the company issued a Facebook post on Sunday evening, asserting that Horman’s comments had been misinterpreted and taken out of context. They emphasized their unwavering support for diverse voices and narratives, clarifying their intention to continue stocking books that reflect a broad spectrum of perspectives and experiences.
Moreover, Robinsons Bookshop reiterated its dedication to promoting uplifting and inclusive stories that foster a sense of belonging and positivity within the community. They urged customers to treat their staff with kindness and respect, reaffirming their commitment to creating a welcoming environment for all patrons.
In a subsequent Facebook update on Monday, the bookstore sought to provide further context to Horman’s remarks. They explained that their buying team had observed a lack of thematic diversity in newly released books, particularly concerning narratives featuring male protagonists in positive roles. However, they clarified that these observations were not intended as value judgments and expressed regret if they were misconstrued as such.
Robinsons Bookshop, with seven locations across Melbourne, including Frankston, Werribee, and Greensborough, continues to advocate for inclusivity and diversity in literature. They remain committed to offering a wide range of titles that reflect the richness of human experience and encourage empathy and understanding among readers of all backgrounds.