Black books:go pop on the bestseller charts.

Henry Louis Gates Jr., chairman of the Afro-American Studies department at Harvard and editorial consultant at Basic Civitas Books, the black imprint of the Perseus Books Group, said: “This reflects the new capacity of the broader American reading public to identify with black characters; the black experience is a metaphor for the larger human experience. One doesn’t read `Hamlet’ to learn about the princes of Denmark.”

He added: “Fifty years ago, white readers read Richard Wright to learn about the Other; now many whites have the capacity to see themselves through a black character.” Still, he said that “one of the greatest changes in publishing over the last 10 years has been the realization that black readers are a large and growing market.”

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