Ready for the FAIL news of the day? Here it is: Publisher Bloomsbury has come under fire for whitewashing the cover of one of its titles — for the second time in a year.

The controversy began less than a year ago, when readers discovered that Justine Larbalestier’s Liar — a book about a biracial high school student — had a white girl pictured on its jacket. Now, the publisher is facing ire once again for its cover of Jaclyn Dolamore’s Magic Under Glass, a fantasy novel with an African-American protagonist, which features a white woman on its jacket. Oof. (Says Bloomsbury via its website: “The jacket design has caused offense and we apologize for our mistake. Copies of the book with a new jacket design will be available shortly.”)

Larbalestier decided to chime in on the controversy on her blog: “It is not about the accuracy of covers on books. It’s not about blonde when the character is brunette, it’s not about the wrong length hair, or the wrong colour dress, it’s not even about thin for fat…Sticking a white girl on the cover of a book about a brown girl is not merely inaccurate, it is part of a long history of marginalisaton and misrepresentation. Publishers don’t randomly pick white models. It happens within a context of racism.”

Whether it was an honest mistake by the publisher or intentional (and many seem to suspect it was intentional), the decision doesn’t paint a pretty picture of book marketing. After all, in our progressive day and age, even the thought that a cover with a white woman could be seen as more valuable and marketable than one featuring an African-American woman is horrific. And utterly befuddling to me.

How about you, Shelf Lifers?