Pop Goes the Library

Using Pop Culture to Make Libraries Better.

by Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, Melissa Rabey, Susan Quinn, John Klima, Carlie Webber, Karen Corday, and Eli Neiburger. We're librarians. We're pop culture mavens. We're Pop Culture Librarians.

2008-02-20

Cross-Marketing YA: Good or Bad?

A recent article in the New York Times, about James Patterson's Maximum Ride series, made me wonder if perhaps the future holds a major shift in marketing YA books. This article explains how Little, Brown is asking booksellers to give Maximum Ride the same push as Patterson's adult books: keeping them at the front of the store, shelving copies in the adult section, and redesigning the covers and flap copy to appeal as much to adults as to teens.

Two interesting quotes from this article, and my thoughts:

"According to market research conducted by Codex Group on behalf of Little, Brown, more than 60 percent of the readers of the “Maximum Ride” series are older than 35."

When the first Maximum Ride book came out, I know I had a lot of adults wanting it, not aware that it was for teens. And as I recall, a large number of adults didn't want it once they learned it was for teens. Of course, this was a couple of years ago, before the last two Harry Potter books and before the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer. But I'm still surprised that so many adults are reading Maximum Ride.

"On the back of both “The Final Warning” and “Daniel X” is a new marketing rubric defining each book as a “James Patterson Pageturner,” written “for readers from ten to a hundred and ten.” Reminding readers of the books’ young-adult roots, the pitch promises that “special care has been taken with the language and content.”"

This is the part that really gave me pause. Now, admittedly, James Patterson is in a class of his own when it comes to marketing and writing; it's unlikely that there's more than a handful of authors who would get this kind of treatment. But it makes me wonder if publishing houses are going to start doing more projects like this: books that are aimed towards all audiences, without "inappropriate language and content". Because honestly? That's not just a disservice to teens; it's a disservice to adults. It reminds me of one of the arguments against Internet filtering: in order to screen objectionable material from children and teens, you end up blocking adults' access to information that they need.

Once we turn eighteen, we don't stop needing books that make us question our lives, our choices, and our futures. On the whole, many books for young adults are all about questioning, and I think that's why they have held such appeal for adults. Yet this doesn't mean that publishers should only give us teen literature that does this; we need literature for all ages that seeks to burst the balloons of ignorance and the status quo. And as much as I want more adults to read YA literature, I don't want them to only be reading it.

What do you think? Am I being a bit too Chicken Little, or could this be something we should be concerned about?

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1 Comments:

  • At 1:19 PM, Blogger Emily Lloyd said…

    At the time when Carl Hiassen's first children's novel, Hoot, came out, I was working in a bookstore. The Hoot display was front and center, and many, many adults saw the author's name and the familiar cover-style of his books and bought it without noticing that it was a children's book. Some came back later to return it. In this instance, at least, it smacked to me of tricky marketing--that is, the publisher/store wasn't saying "Hey, look, adults, Hiassen writes children's fiction you might enjoy, too!" but "Hiassen's New Book!" and banking on folks not looking too closely...

     

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