Since the early aughts, book publishers’ profits have tanked. In raw numbers, they have remained almost exactly the same: U.S. book industry revenues were $25.3 billion in 2000, and they were $25.7 billion in 2020. But accounting for inflation, revenues have fallen by 32% between 2000 and last year.

One writers’ blog reports that “most publishers have cited supply chain issues, rising costs of materials and labor due to inflation, as well as reduced consumer buying habits as the COVID pandemic winds down to a dubious close.”

But the suffering sales also coincide with a major shift in the publishing industry, in which “sensitivity readers” thrive and books come under fire for being written by authors of the wrong race.

According to a report by the Free Press, “the legacy publishing houses in New York have been declining thanks to a combination of threats that are both external (the internet; the upending of print) and internal (new progressive staffers; sensitivity readers; etc.).”

Fundamentally, book publishers seem more interested in virtue signaling than making money. After Macmillan Books imprint Flatiron paid actor Elliot Page a $3 million advance for Page’s memoir about being transgender, the book has sold fewer than 68,000 copies in six months.

“Selling 68,000 copies would have a small indie publisher popping open the champagne,” writes journalist Nick Tyrone for Spiked. “But for a huge house like Macmillan, which published Pageboy earlier this year, these kinds of numbers are embarrassing.”

Flatiron is the same imprint that reportedly signed an $8 million book deal with Joe Biden and Jill Biden in 2017.

Bob Miller, president of Flatiron, said the Biden books “promise to give us all a deeper understanding of recent political history” and will be “about the values that have given the vice president strength in both good times and bad.”

In November 2017, Flatiron published Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose. While this book seems to have done well, many readers are sure to think the line about Biden’s “values” is a bunch of malarkey.

Publishers are spending big on subjects like race and sexuality and salaries for editors whose jobs are to tell writers what’s “problematic.” But you likely won’t catch them running a book by a straight, white man — unless, of course, he’s the Democrat in the Oval Office.