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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 May 2006, 16:57 GMT 17:57 UK
Book trade 'failing minorities'
Zadie Smith
Zadie Smith is named as one of the most successful black writers
The book industry is failing to cater for black and minority ethnic readers, according to an Arts Council report.

Its Books for All survey claims book shops and publishers are neglecting ethnic groups.

Only 50 of the top 5,000 best-selling books in 2006 so far are by black and minority ethnic writers, it says.

"When businesses do not pursue a market as prominent as this, there is a barrier," said Samenua Sesher of the Arts Council's Decibel initiative.

"The fear can be of getting it wrong, of offending, or of being politically correct".

Growing market

Decibel, an Arts Council England scheme to promote cultural diversity in the arts, jointly commissioned the report with the Bookseller magazine.

The poll surveyed a panel of 250 publishers, agents, booksellers and librarians.

"The black and minority ethnic market represents a growing and largely untapped market," said Neil Denny, editor-in-chief of The Bookseller.

High street booksellers "need to be alive to any potential market opportunity", he said.

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