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The Children are Our Future

I spent much of last week at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in downtown LA. It was, as one would expect, delightful. I won’t bore you with all of the details of the conference. Suffice to say it’s thrilling to spend time surrounded by dozens of bestselling authors; the Mr. Romance pageant was cheesetastic fun; and Bottega Louie has amazing éclairs.

The most heartening aspect of the event for me was the massive Sunday book fair which then rolled into “Teen Day,” a separate event with the RT young adult authors being led through a day of activities from reading selected short pieces to rotating through groups of teen readers for chats. Authors seem so much more accessible than they ever did to me as a teen. While I’m sure there were author tours and events when I was a teenager, the reach of information via author sites and outreach and the scope of the events themselves seems ever greater. I don’t think I ever even thought about writing to an author. They seemed like distant, near mythical beings. Working in publishing divested me of that feeling pretty quickly! I kid, I kid. The point is, from the outside, it appears that teens are much more engaged in the reading process than they ever were before.

Maybe because I’m a ridiculous optimist about publishing in general, but given the growth of the young adult market and the fact that there is a generation raised on blockbusters like Harry Potter and Twilight, I have a completely unscientific hunch that reading is becoming a more popular pastime then it was when I had my nose buried in Fear Street and that there will thus be more adult readers in the next generation than my own produced.

What do we think? Are there going to be more readers buying books in the coming years? Is there job security in publishing after all? ARE the children our future?

4 Responses to The Children are Our Future

  1. Jessi says:

    I think you might be right about a trend toward more readers. As an aspiring teenage author, I’ve been watching the amount of YA books that pop up at the library. Maybe it’s just me but the selection seems to have increased dramatically in the last ten years.
    My theory is that the reason there are more readers of YA now might be partially because of more free time but I think the biggest factor is the selection. I don’t see that many older books for kids and teens. Sure, there were books like the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew but I don’t think there was a very wide selection back then. (I can’t be sure since I wasn’t around back then.)
    With blockbuster books like Harry Potter, Twilight, and the Hunger Games, I think it has helped other authors publish books for kids so there is a wider selection now. If a teenager doesn’t like mystery books, there are plenty of other books they can read. They can read hundreds of books in one genre and never have to choose between reading something they don’t like or not reading at all.
    Now that these teens are in the habit of reading, I think they will keep reading into adulthood. I do wonder if they will move on to adult books or if they will keep reading YA when they become adults.

  2. Gina Black says:

    The book fair was Saturday. I didn’t go to the whole convention. If I had, it might have felt like Sunday to me too. :)

    I enjoyed seeing the teens there and spent some time in line talking to them about what they were reading. Very interesting.

  3. Ciara says:

    I hope you’re right. There definitely seems to be a huge increase in the number of YA books out there but it seems to me that it’s mostly adults who are reading them. that’s entirely subjective though and i have to say i don’t know many readers so I’m not the best judge at all. i hope that kids are reading more though. with so many other distractions it’s nice to think that stories can still compete.

  4. I’m a ridiculous optimist about life in general. My son’s school book fair was this week, and it warmed my heart to see the huge lines of young people buying books. When I told him he could pick out more than one book, his excitement almost brought tears to my eyes (he’s only six). So yes, the children are our future…Whitney Houston wouldn’t sing it if it wasn’t true. 😉

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