Critics of ‘vulgar’ book for young adults want Governor General’s award rescinded

23 January 2015

From the Ottawa Citizen:

A Kanata children’s author has joined a protest over the awarding of a Governor General’s Literary Award to what critics are calling a “vulgar” and “gratuitous” book for young adults about gender identity issues in high school.

Kathy Clark says she is among 1,500 people across Canada petitioning the Canada Council to revoke the 2014 award because of graphic content in Raziel Reid’s debut novel When Everything Feels like the Movies.

The novel is inspired by the true story of an openly gay 15-year-old California boy who was shot to death in 2008 by a classmate he’d asked to be his Valentine.

. . . .

Clark, author of two children’s books, says Reid’s use of language is inappropriate for a book recognized in the young adult classification (12 to 18) within the children’s literature category.

“I know it’s difficult to write about difficult and sensitive issues,” says Clark. “But it’s very possible to write about them in an appropriate way without resorting to vulgar language.”

. . . .

In a statement to the Citizen, the 25-year-old author said he set out to reflect what young people talk about, and how they talk about it.

“I’m not promoting a culture, I’m depicting one — and I’m doing it with the graphic language that culture uses, and with the themes that culture is consumed with: fame, drugs, sex, and selfies,” Reid said.

“For my generation, a (Facebook) Like has replaced physical warmth and affection. This has created a nihilistic society obsessed with ‘instafame’ and instant gratification. As a result, youth are facing a deeper isolation than ever before. I wrote this story so that readers can understand lost teenagers like my narrator Jude Rothesay.”

Link to the rest at Ottawa Citizen

What Nielsen Knows

20 January 2015

From Digital Book World:

Nielsen . . . gave the audience a couple of its biggest jawdroppers of the day in terms of statistical analysis.

Chief among them:

Eighty percent of YA books sold in the US today, per Nielsen’s findings, are being bought by adults for themselves.

This being good news to those who sell YA, of course, no one in the room gasped, “What’s wrong with those adult readers?”

And, of course, nothing’s wrong with them, although in some circles it would not be out of line to ask what drives more mature readers to return so heavily to these stories with their generally strong emphasis on romance and youth.

But the unanswered question — one that resonates in the UK market’s slide-by of adult trade by children’s as well, as our Tom Tivnan is reporting — hung over the whole day at #LaunchKids.

It may have made some in the room wish that instead of a parade of “we do this” and “we’re having great success with that,” we might have heard, “we believe we’re seeing this trend because it answers this need.”

In other words, much of what [Nielsen] brought us set us up with pressing quandaries about a comparatively booming market that we only partly understand. There are cultural revelations underlying what’s going on here. Their exploration could be good both for business and for booksellers’ sanity.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

Children’s/YA Growth Spurt Continues

20 January 2015

From Shelf Awareness:

In the first 10 months of the year, total net book sales rose 5.5%, to $13.2 billion, compared to the first 10 months of 2013, representing sales of 1,209 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers. Net book sales in October jumped 11.9%, to $1.03 billion.

. . . .

Among highlights for the year to date: children’s/YA continued to grow, with sales up 21.6%, to $1.5 billion.

. . . .

By category for January-October 2014:


Link to the rest at Shelf Awareness

Forget Your Preconceptions About Teenagers and Reading

19 December 2014

From Publishing Perspectives:

Nielsen hosted the first annual Children’s Book Summit at the McGraw-Hill Building in New York City, co-chaired by Kristen McLean, editor of Nielsen’s Books & Consumers Children’s research and founder and CEO of Bookigee, and Jonathan Stolper, SVP Nielsen Books America. The focus of the conference was to delve deeply into Nielsen’s body of research in publishing, gaming, and film to dispel popular myths about kids and reading, provide publishers information about their audience that might surprise them, and offer opportunities upon which to act.

In 2014, children and teenagers are reading in record numbers and are often driving the buying of books by influencing their parents and peers. The children’s book market has grown 44% in the last 10 years, while adult publishing had its peak in 2008 and is in decline. International children’s publishing is still the largest sector of content creation at $151 billion (surpassing gaming, which is at $133 billion). And reading is still the #1 leisure activity for children 2-10. It’s at 11-13 that is starts to dip, being beaten out by television and games, and at 14-17 pleasure reading loses ground entirely.

. . . .

[N]ot only do 67% of teens read for pleasure, 50% of them also still prefer print books over ebooks. And, while we think that kids on their phones checking Facebook or tweeting means that they don’t know how to interact with each other or that it is taking away from their academic pursuits or that they are just playing games, Junco’s research actually proves the opposite. Online interactions build social capital by giving kids the opportunity to learn more about their peers and help strengthen the intimacy of those relationships and, academically, allow students to have more engagement in their subjects. Unlike adults, teens interact with technology in a very different way, so Junco warned the audience against believing those myths.

. . . .

What the research showed was that, yes, teens only spend 5% of their leisure time reading for pleasure (with watching TV receiving the largest portion of their leisure time at 19%), but book-buying teens are the ones most likely to own gaming consoles and technology like tablets and ereaders. And, with 44% of teens saying they need to disconnect from the internet or take a break, this might help explain their preference for print books. So, while gaming is popular and social media consumes some of their time, it doesn’t mean teens aren’t reading. What is more likely is that they have to read more for school, thus they might need a break from reading during leisure time.

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

Are You an Adult Who Reads YA Novels? Congratulations, You Saved Publishing in 2014

17 December 2014

From Flavorwire:

We won’t have the full picture until sometime in 2015, but as it stands right now, book publishing had a profitable year in 2014. In the face of constant fighting between the Big 5 publishers and Amazon, book sales are up across all categories by 4.9 percent, according to the Association of American Publishers (AAP).

Even trade sales, as it turns out, are up 2.8 percent this year. And — in a turn of events that should surprise no one — those trade sales were buoyed by a substantial increase in sales of Young Adult and Children’s books, up 22.4 percent over 2013. When you also consider that religious-press books are up by a meager 2.1 percent, and that, horrifyingly, Adult Fiction/Non-Fiction is down by 3.3 percent over last year, it becomes obvious that YA/Children’s books are keeping the industry out of the red.

Ebook sales — which were thought to be declining — are up by 5.6 percent in trade. Hardback sales are down a percentage point, while paperbacks are still strong at an increase of 4.9 percent.

But here’s where things get curious: ebook sales are up by nearly 53 percent in the YA/Children’s book category.

. . . .

It now seems clear that the healthiest market for trade books in 2014 includes adults who buy ebook versions of YA/Children’s books. In a way, these numbers retroactively justify a year of debates over the distinction between children, teenagers, and adults.

. . . .

Although it remains to be seen how the dominance of serial fiction has affected the publishing industry in 2014, we do know that Amazon’s list of 2014 best-sellers featured a majority of fiction serials. It’s no secret that among the subsections of trade books listed by the AAP, YA and Children’s books are the more likely to feature serial storylines.

Link to the rest at Flavorwire and thanks to Meryl for the tip.

Meet Zoella—The Newbie Author Whose Book Sales Topped J.K. Rowling

15 December 2014

From The Daily Beast:

Three weeks ago 24-year-old Zoe Sugg published her first novel, Girl Online, a YA romance. In the first seven days, it sold more than 78,000 copies, beating the first week sales figures of any author on record, including J. K. Rowling and E. L. James.

How was this possible? Well, it can’t have hurt that Sugg is already a celebrity brand in the U.K. (where she lives in the coastal town of Brighton). She began her vlog “Zoella”—hints and tips about beauty, fashion, and lifestyle—in 2009, and has been steadily racking up fans ever since. She is probably the best known of the new “Brit crew” vloggers (she took home the Best British Vlogger Award at the 2013 BBC Radio 1’s Teen Awards, and the Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Award earlier this year), and each video she posts attracts 12 million hits a month. She has more than 6 million YouTube followers, and 2.62 million on Twitter. Her target audience is teenage girls; thus, as with so much teenage culture that seems to exist on something of a parallel plane to the rest of us, if you’re not a teenage girl yourself (or don’t have a teenage daughter/sister), you’ve most likely never heard of her. Well, until now, that is.

Girl Online’s record-breaking sales immediately caused waves, but then Sugg hit the news again this past weekend when it was confirmed by her publishers, Penguin, that the rumors about the possibility that all was not what it seemed with the book were true. The truth was out: Sugg had worked with a ghost writer.

One could argue that this was never exactly hidden from her readers. The ghost writer in question is assumed to be one Siobhan Curham—an established author of both YA and adult fiction. Neither she nor Penguin have confirmed her involvement, or detailed exactly how much ghost writing was involved, but she initially came under suspicion due to Sugg’s mention of her in the acknowledgements of the book: “I want to thank everyone at Penguin for helping me put together my first novel,” she writes, in an admittedly slightly odd turn of phrase—note the use of “put together,” there’s no actual mention of “writing”—“especially Amy Alward [her editor] and Siobhan Curham who were with me every step of the way.” Apparently Curham also posted a blog post back in the summer claiming she had just accepted a job ghost writing a YA novel, a rush job due to be completed in a matter of weeks (now assumed to be Girl Online). The post was later removed.

. . . .

Quite why anyone is as shocked and surprised by this “revelation” as some are claiming, is beyond me. Even having watched only a handful of the Zoella vlogs, the minute I began reading Girl Online I noticed the vast difference between the friendly, gregarious but ultimately rambling tone of the videos (although I’m well aware the style of a vlog is supposed to be chatty, and thus inherently different to that of the written word), and the sleek, polished style of the novel. But there’s also the seemingly hugely overlooked fact that this is what celebrities do. They hire other people to write their books for them, whether memoir or fiction. Sugg is certainly not the first person to do this, and she won’t be the last either.

Link to the rest at The Daily Beast and thanks to T.T. for the tip.


14 December 2014

Based on Veronica Roth’s book

Children’s fuels 2014 growth in US

29 October 2014

From The Bookseller:

YA/children’s books are fuelling growth, including e-book growth, in the US, according to new figures from the Association of American Publishers (AAP).

New figures released by the group covering January to July 2014, show that the e-book revenue grew 7.5% compared to the same period in 2013. This was driven largely by a huge growth of e-book revenue in the children’s and YA category, with a 59.5% growth compared to the same period last year. Another growth area is religious e-books, which has climbed 25.7%

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

S. E. Hinton and the Y.A. Debate

15 October 2014

From The New Yorker:

S. E. Hinton recalls that when she published her début novel, “The Outsiders,” in 1967, “there was no young-adult market.” Her book, written by a teen-ager about teen-agers in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was issued in hardcover by the Viking Press and then in softcover by Dell—both adult trade imprints. “ ‘The Outsiders’ died on the vine being sold as a drugstore paperback,” Hinton told me, but her publisher “noticed that in one area it was selling very well. Teachers were using it in classes. All of a sudden, they realized that there was a separate market for young adults.”

Since then, “The Outsiders” has gone on to sell more than ten million copies. Along with Hinton’s other books for teen-agers—“That Was Then, This Is Now,” “Rumble Fish,” “Tex,” and “Taming the Star Runner”—“The Outsiders” remains a mainstay on middle-school and high-school reading lists, and it continues to sell well in digital formats. This week, “Rumble Fish” will be a Starbucks pick, available for free download through the coffee chain’s app or via iTunes. For Hinton, who almost single-handedly brought the Y.A. genre into being, this marks a kind of transgenerational full-circle return. The author who changed the way that books for teens were written and published has seen her own work go from the spinning wire display rack near checkout to an online marketplace accessible while you wait for your morning latte.

. . . .

The Y.A. debate has lately broadened into a discussion about the portrayal of adulthood in American culture. A. O. Scott’s essay on the subject for the Times last month traced our national resistance to grownup responsibilities all the way back to the works of James Fenimore Cooper and Mark Twain. Like Huck Finn, many of the young men in Hinton’s books are without proper parental supervision. The adults in her fiction are alcoholics, drug addicts, or simply absent. Scott quotes the critic Leslie Fiedler:

the typical male protagonist of our fiction has been a man on the run, harried into the forest and out to sea, down the river or into combat—anywhere to avoid “civilization,” which is to say, the confrontation of a man and woman which leads to the fall to sex, marriage, and responsibility.

While evasion and violence are recurring motifs in Hinton’s books, several of her novels end with the young men accepting and benefitting from adult responsibilities. When I asked Hinton about this, she said, “like every other teen-ager, I was sure the adults had no idea what was going on. I didn’t know how adults thought. I didn’t ‘get’ them, so it was easier for me to leave them out.”

Hinton was herself a high-school student when she began writing “The Outsiders.” The novel, she told me, grew out of her dissatisfaction with the way teen-age life was being portrayed in the books she read. “There was only a handful of books having teen-age protagonists: Mary Jane wants to go to the prom with the football hero and ends up with the boy next door and has a good time anyway. That didn’t ring true to my life. I was surrounded by teens and I couldn’t see anything going on in those books that had anything to do with real life.” She remembers drawing inspiration from an eclectic range of titles, including “Gone with the Wind,” Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House,” “Great Expectations,” Will James’s cowboy books, and the science-fiction stories of Harlan Ellison and Ray Bradbury.

Link to the rest at The New Yorker

The Maze Runner

2 September 2014

Here’s a link to James Dashner’s books

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