Inspired by a recent survey showing the depressing lack of diversity in the publishing industry, Brooklyn magazine’s Molly McArdle has put together a new online roundtable of industry voices. The responses—collected from 50 published authors, industry editors, and other figures from all walks of the literary life—range from deeply pessimistic, like Private Citizens author Tony Tulathimutte’s “Barring world historical change, I don’t see really anything happening but a new paint job,” to more optimistic answers about the state of a business that controls so much of what we read and think about.

Topics discussed include the recent spate of children’s books putting a happy face on slavery (including A Birthday Cake For George Washington, which Scholastic pulled after people protested the way it shows future escaped slave Hercules merrily baking for the man who owns him), to the generally dismal economic outlook of the white literary market, to the story of Michael Derrick Hudson, the white Indiana poet who wriggled his way into Best American Poetry under the pseudonym “Yi-Fen Chou”. Wide-ranging and willing to dive deep, it’s a fascinating look at life on the outskirts of the insular culture that, to quote poet Ken Chen, is “controlling what kind of ideas enter mainstream culture: the books that you hear on talk shows, the books that are made into movies.”