Thursday, April 30, 2009

Is it The Hunger Games?

In case you haven't been keeping up with YouTube lately, there is a big Battle of the Books going on. It's worth watching as an example of marketing books, and keeping up with what is on teens' minds. A hit video posted in response to the battle is by two young sisters who want to see The Hunger Games win. Talk about viral marketing, probably more people have become aware of this book through the YouTube video than through all the print ads in library journals. There has even been an article and interview in SLJ. Anyone who thinks YouTube deals only in pop culture and has nothing to do with libraries had better take another look and think it over. If a short video made by two amateurs over a weekend can have this much impact, think of what librarians and teachers could do to promote books.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Will e-books destroy publishing?

Although it hasn't had much impact on the children's textbook market yet, e-textbooks are changing some aspects of college textbooks. The exorbitant prices charged for college textbooks has been a deterrent to many students and their parents, many of whom are already struggling to pay college costs. Now a major study of e-textbooks in the UK has suggested that the future for this form of publishing should be bright, and not only for students. E-textbooks have not impacted the sale of print books very much as there are still some people who prefer print; what they have done is open alternatives for students. And the age of students does not seem to matter in predicting whether or not the e-textbooks will be welcomed and used. Although these findings may not be applicable to textbooks for young students in high school, it's quite likely that they might be. Of all the areas of e-publishing coming along, e-textbooks appears to be the one with the brightest future.

Friday, April 24, 2009

What's happening in social media?

Librarians and teachers who want to help young people use social networking sites for information and recreation can learn a lot by following If you want to know the latest news about twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or a host of other social networking sites, there's no better place to look. Not only can you find articles giving the latest business news about the companies behind the sites, but you'll also find a section of How-to articles on using tools to set up a business or increase productivity. Not many young people are ready to start a business, but many could use tips on improving their google skills and using effective labels on YouTube videos. You'll find answers to a lot of questions you may never have thought of asking.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Are you really a children's author?

Looking at the lists of new children's books coming out, you can't help but notice how many authors who have written books for adults are now turning to the children's market. This trend has been apparent for quite a few years, and may be growing stronger. Why do they do it? Some of them, like many other adults, think writing for children must be easier than writing for adults, but that isn't true. Money also plays a role, as children's publishing has become more lucrative and advances to children's authors are higher than they have ever been. Children's books last longer in the market than most books for adults. Librarians reorder copies of popular books year after year and a successful title brings the author royalties for eight to ten years rather than the two or three year limit on most books for adults. Parents who recognize the name of a popular author is more likely to buy her book than a book by someone who has written only children's books over the years. But the question remains--do the adult authors bring new vision and creativity to their children's books? Some do, others try to slide by with watered down versions of their adult-book plots and characters. It's up to librarians and parents to look carefully at a children's book and not to buy it just because the author happens to be a best-selling writer of thrillers. You can't judge a book by its cover, and often not even by its author. It's the words on the page that count.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Libraries lose a leader

This week American librarians lost a leader who has served as an inspiration on censorship issues for several decades. Judith Krug, who headed ALA's Intellectual Freedom Office, died at the age of 69. Krug conceived the idea of Banned Book Week and set it up in 1982 to call attention to the number of challenges made to materials in public and school libraries. The publicity surrounding Banned Book Week has mades the general public aware of how many individuals and groups want to control the materials that people can access in libraries. With the growth of the Internet censorship issues have grown and the Intellectual Freedom Office has been called in many times to help librarians fighting against excessive restrictions on access. The importance of Judy Krug's work has long been celebrated by librarians, now others, including the N.Y. Times, are raising their voices in her praise. She richly deserved all the tributes she has received.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Where are magazines headed?

Magazines for children are struggling these days as families, schools and libraries all try to cut costs. The general magazine market is not very healthy either, as fewer people buy magazines at the newsstand and subscriptions dwindle. The N.Y. Times today describes the strategy some magazines are taking to keep their profits strong. As advertising revenue drops, some magazines are increasing subscription prices. Time, Newsweek, and most other general magazines sell their product for far less than it costs to produce, depending on advertising to make a profit. Other magazines, notable the Economist, charge unusually high prices both for single issues and subscriptions yet seem to maintain their readership. What does this mean for the children's market and for the librarians who generally are the backbone for subscription sales for children's magazines? That remains to be seen. How valuable are magazines in a library collection? Do librarians and teachers know how often they are used or how highly they are valued? Is the trend away from magazines as more children and teenagers move to online sources? Because magazines don't usually circulate, very few statistics are available to measure there use. It is time librarians started noting and recording their usage because deciding whether to continue subscriptions may become a pricier choice if costs rise. Only solid information will help us make good choices.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A lesson to us all

It's easy to complain about lack of funding, we all do that, but some people just rise above the obstacles. An 8th grader in New Jersey has created a nonprofit fundraising organization that's already donated hundreds of books to hospitals, schools and community groups. "Adele's Literacy Library" as reported in School Library Journal, has a goal of presented millions of books to disadvantaged groups. Donations and fundraising events appear to be bringing in enough money to make a real difference in new Jersey and the ambitious Adele is hoping to expand her efforts nationwide. She is surely an example to all of us who sometimes grow weary after years of trying to find funds for books. It's good to know some younger folks are carrying on the work.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Book videos for/by kids

If you want to hear a great review of Puss in Boots, click on this blog and see a master reviewer, all of eight years old do the job. There will be many more reviews of books coming into the Story Tubes contest, so it will be useful for all librarians and many teachers to keep tabs on them. So many of us waste time decrying technologies that supposedly take kids away from books, it's good to see an example of using technology to encourage and develop reading. This is a contest, and a blog, to keep your eye on.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

What is the world thinking?

The Bologna Book Fair has ended for another year and American publishers, like those around the world, are trying to assess what the trends in children's publishing are. Publisher's Weekly has hosted a Bologna Blog that gives a sketch of what has been going on. Europeans seem to be as fascinated by the Twilight series as Americans are. Everyone will no doubt be looking for the next hot series for the youth market. Meanwhile electronic publishing does not seem to be as much of a talking point in Europe as it is in the U.S. Of course no one knows how important a development that will be in the children's market, but U.S. and U.K. publishers are the ones to watch for future electronic moves.