New ‘IP List’ Spotlights Books From Underrepresented Authors Available to Option

The current Peak IP era presents a potential pitfall for diversity in media, considering a 2020 New York Times feature that found 95 percent of the books published by the major publishing houses since 1950 were written by white authors.

That’s why nonprofit Pathos Labs, the think tank that looks to use media and entertainment for positive change, has created The IP List, an industry-crowdsourced index of books by authors from underrepresented backgrounds that are available for option. The list defines “underrepresented” as any community that hasn’t been portrayed in the media with authenticity, nuance and their own voices, and can include class, ability, geographic location, religion, ethnicity, race, sex, gender and sexual orientation.

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“When 64 percent of scripted film and television content in Hollywood is based on adaptations of existing works, we really need to design pathways for content originating from diverse authors to get optioned and produced,” Pathos Labs executive director Romain Vakilitabar said in a statement. “It’s incredible that we’re seeing a push for more diversity onscreen and in writers rooms. But if we really care about representation and inclusion, we also need to be thinking about the perspectives those stories originally stem from.”

The list was compiled by surveying more than 100 literary agents worldwide, who each submitted their favorite un-optioned book (similar to The Black List’s survey of top unproduced screenplays) based on guidance shaped by 15 industry advisors, including CAA books agent Berni Vann, Lionsgate motion picture group head of inclusive content Kamala Avila-Salmon, former Warner Bros. Discovery head of DEI for North America Karen Horne, Marginal Media founder and CEO Sanjay Sharma and WME literary packaging co-head Sylvie Rabineau.

“The IP List is a gamechanger not just for spotlighting diverse authors and their amazing stories but also for giving showrunners and TV writers like myself access to some incredible IP,” United States of Al executive producer and IP List advisor Reza Aslan said in a statement.

Twenty-nine books comprise the inaugural IP List, which is supported by the Nielsen Foundation through its Data for Good grants program. Interested buyers will be connected directly to the relevant literary and book-to-film agents via the IP List website. Said Pathos Labs head of community Nicole Solis-Sison, project manager of the list, in a statement, “If we don’t prioritize these types of initiatives, we as an industry really fall flat on our promise to tell more diverse stories.”

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