January 19, 2009

Putting Books into Kids' Hands, and Taking Them Out Again

If you're a member of SCBWI, take a gander at your latest issue of the Bulletin--not only is there a great article from our fabulous interviewee, Elizabeth Wein, but there's also a thought-provoking piece by our blog bud C.K. entitled "What Is YA and Where Should We Put It?" The piece talks about how YA books and movies, especially those which can be considered "crossover," are marketed in stores--and asks the question of whether older teen books should also be stocked in the adult section, or at the very least be placed at a distance from the children's books.

This brought to mind something I noticed in my local B&N--at some point in the past few years, they DID move the teen section to its own area, still near the kids' section but also near some of the biographies and new fiction, and on shelves that made it look like a part of the main store as opposed to an offshoot of the semi-enclosed kids' area. I wonder if sales of teen books have improved as a result?

This is part of a larger discussion, too, of what constitutes YA, and to what extent having a separate label benefits or, conversely, weighs down books. I also think that it does benefit teens to have books that are marketed as adult books--like perhaps The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which C.K. mentions in her article--filed in the teen section in addition to being filed in the adult section. My local library does this to some extent--mostly with "classics."

Anyway. I think another part of the quandary centers on how to get more books into teens' hands, and what role marketing and physical placement play in appealing specifically to older teens. What do you all think, especially those of you who are librarians/booksellers?

On the other side of things, there's still a battle to keep books IN kids' hands--a blogging friend of mine tweeted me with a link to a rather disturbing news story about the soon-to-go-into-effect federal Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. Among other things, the law is meant to protect children from lead in their toys--AND their books. Yes, books. Evidently, it's the ink. According to the article, "The law goes into effect on Feb. 10. After that day, all products for children under 12, including books, games, toys and even clothing, must be tested for lead."

This has the potential of causing countless books to be pulled off shelves, not to mention the expense of testing and the questions about actual feasibility. Let's hope that the Consumer Product Safety Commission is as good as their word, and provides more detailed--and reasonable--guidelines for libraries and bookstores. Here's the ALA's page on the subject, which doesn't make me feel very reassured...

A couple of brief announcements: Our own LW is in the world premiere of the musical Pope Joan! Congrats, Little Willow! And, if you're a teen, you've still got time to nominate a book for the Children's Book Council's 2009 Teen Choice Book Award.


Saints and Spinners said...

One of my resolutions in general (not just New Year's) has been to be more active in writing to elected officials-- the first letter of the year was about the CPSIA. I really hope that everyone's efforts to modify the law will have a positive impact. Thanks for blogging it. I've got a post coming out in 5 minutes (i.e. Monday).

TadMack said...

The CPSIA thing is really weird -- it affects so many small businesses -- people on Etsy AND indies. All it would take it probably one paragraph to fix it, too.