Thursday, May 2, 2013

Limitless YA Publishing and a Fix of Fantasy

When I was young--or specifically, a young adult (whatever that actually means)--I spent most of my time reading 19th and 20th century classics, some fantasy, the occasional mystery thriller and, when no one was looking, current children's books that my younger brother was assigned from school. Even in my teenage years, I had developed a sense of nostalgia for the books I had read five, six, eight years prior, so it was with that memory that I'd check out the brother's newest assigned reading, curious about the goings on of the children's literary world.

But I was certainly not reading anything printed for me and my age group. Not regularly at least. That is why the Young Adult category intrigues me, as it may most of you. It has catapulted in the past ten years, generating some of the most memorable, and loathed, books of our generation. Is it because they are "easier" to read, venture into more fantastical or currently dystopic areas, or people just can't get enough of the teenage psyche? It's certainly profitable, which is why so many publishers are adopting the genre and creating their own YA imprints. Even Penguin Books India is launching INKED, their own "hip new young adult imprint." A recent LA Times article points out why:
What's the reason? Readers, or more specifically, book-buying readers. It's been obvious since midway through the Harry Potter series that books for kids could sell big -- in part because adults are reading the books as well. The success of the "Twilight" and "The Hunger Games" series proved that what might have looked like a trend is more like a habit. There are young adult book buyers are to be had.
That's wonderful--the book buying industry is on the rise in the children's lit area--and yet there is room for worry, if they all aim to churn out what's "trending" instead of what is innovative, challenging, or just different. Sigh. I'm grumbling to myself, when I should be celebrating all the new and exciting things that have come to pass and do await. But can we just move past the dystopias and all the cavalcade of "mean-girl" high school dramas? Has our storytelling run dry? Not at all. I just hope that these imprints search out the best of the best.

On an entirely separate note, speaking of what awaits us, if you're a fantasy/sci-fi aficionado, this Ultimate Guide to Fantasy and SciFi in May should help you get your fix in May.

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