With low entry costs, expanding distribution opportunities, and potential access to more readers than ever before, these are exciting times for publishing.When I founded namelos just about seven years ago—on Barack Obama’s inauguration day, to be exact—I pitched it as “a new kind of publisher for the next generation of authors and readers.” I believed then and I believe now that the digital revolution and a new generation of readers have created an extraordinary opportunity for everyone who cares about young adult literature.Word of mouth has always been the gold standard for book promotion, and social media—Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Instagram, Vine—are nothing more than technologically enabled word of mouth. This is fine for established authors who write strong-selling books.
But at the time, the reception of the field by authors, agents, editors, and reviewers—pretty much everyone involved—was mixed.
Printz Award by the American Library Association in 2000 (for books published in 1999) was a milestone in the evolution of the genre. Ironically, more and more so-called “adult writers,” encouraged by their agents, are writing for young adults. Anderson’s (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006) are noteworthy examples.
Those booksellers who have adapted to the competition of cloud-based stores are the best source for mainstream publishers’ offerings, and digital technology provides the tools necessary to explore the fringes. As Isaac Bashevis Singer noted in his 1978 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, youngsters don’t read reviews, and “they don't give a hoot about the critics.” The main challenge for today’s YA authors and illustrators is not the reading preferences of young readers, then, but the ongoing digital transformation of the publishing industry.
Young adults are networked in ways that open up enormous opportunities for publishers and writers to find out what kids are reading. The largest publishers remain the best channel to the book-buying public, but they can only publish titles that sell at sufficiently high levels to support their economic goals.
In the long run, this is far more important than the digital revolution.
There is now a vast reading public of all ages who know what the genre has to offer and who look to it when they want something good to read.
The impact on the publishing and bookselling businesses may not be pretty, but consumer demand is inexorable.
Readers love YA books; they also want less expensive content fast.
It notes that teens “lag behind adults when it comes to reading e-books….
[and] continue to express a preference for print that may seem to be at odds with their perceived digital know-how.” It’s no surprise to me that YA readers still prefer print.