Thoughts on YA

I am procrastinating by reading all my favorite blogs.*** I could call it research since I am working on a book in which I encourage blog reading as a form of professional development but the truth is . . . . I am procrastinating.

So there is this article from the NY Times by Margo Rabb that has popped up on a number of blogs I read. It is about the publishing choices made in regards to YA and Adult novels. It includes my favorite quote on this issue from Sherman Alexie: “I thought I’d been condescended to as an Indian — that was nothing compared to the condescension for writing Y.A.” Seriously how great is that. Rabb’s article explores the “crossover” novel, books that move fluidly between adult fiction and YA fiction. Some of these are easily identifiable – and she talks to those authors such as Curtis Sittenfeld (I suppressed my irritation with her enough to read that paragraph but only barely) and Mark Haddon.

A couple of things struck me as pretty interesting. Peter Cameron doesn’t seem to be o.k. with the designation of Some Day This Pain Will Be Useful to You, and wants his publisher to put it in the adult catalog when the paperback comes out. I thought that was interesting considering the buzz and praise I heard about this book when it first came out. Rabb, on the other hand, seems to have reconciled/embraced herself to Cures for a Heartbreak’s subjective designation. (And it seems to me quite a lot of age designation is subjective) And she has discovered that thing that YA authors talk about and appreciate: teens will write you about how much your story has changed their life/ helped them cope/ made them like books. And not just because their teacher made them – although that happens as well.

Liz B. over at A Chair, etc. suggests multiple copies in multiple areas. Which is always a technique I agree with. Little Willow points out that readers are fluid and just want a good book. I agree with her up to a point and wish I could shop her store. Both the Big Box store I shop in the town in which I live (no Indie), and the Indie I shop in the town in which I work (too snobby to buy mass marketed fiction there), look at me like I am some sort of delayed adolescent or worse when I purchase YA. It took a few years to move past my defensiveness, although there are still some days I’d like to tell the snotty ass clerks to go to hell, they probably wouldn’t know good literature if it bit them in the ass. So yeah, cross-promotion by shelving all over the store would be a good thing.* I like the UK and Australia publishing with different covers as both YA and Adult too. (Hang on – getting to the covers.)

So I was in the Big Box last night and this was floating around in my mind. Here is what I saw – on the shelves of New Fiction (8 shelves, maybe 32-36 titles) there were 5 new middle grade or YA titles. Nothing indicated publishers designation as tween/teen novels. Same thing in the new paperback section. Of course I would have been happier if the paperbacks hadn’t included The Clique, but whatever that just me being all judgmental. Plus there was the big ass, inevitable Stephenie Meyer Twilight display. But there was this melding of books. Not so at the indie but I think that is because they lost their really good childrens/YA book buyer.

Remember I said I’d get to the covers? Well Liz B. over at A Chair etc.** posted a link to an article from Print magazine on the repackaging of YA novels which was definitely worth a read. We, who sell books to kids in our stores and our libraries, know how important a cover can be. One of the reasons I love Jacket Whys. So it was interesting to consider how covers change with reissue.

In both articles not one pet peeve about YA you usually find in media articles. Oh, except Nancy Drew????? Not really YA. Oh – and Curtis Sittenfeld.

*Except when you put Tweak face out on a table at the entrance to the CHILDREN’S SECTION!

** The full name seems to long to type when I am in the flow but it is A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy.

*** Must update my blogroll.


2 Responses

  1. Thanks for the link!

    Some stores are told exactly which titles to put on displays, endcaps, and tables with no wiggle room, while others (luckily) can select which titles to display and/or have ‘staff recommends’ displays. Having books on display helps them sell. It’s a cycle which can be vicious or kind…

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