Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What these two things have in common is Stephenie Meyer

The Atlantic would like to see more book banning. Their argument makes me recall a discussion with a friend who was living in Mexico during a particularly repressive time--she said something like "well, sure, if you say the wrong thing too loudly you risk getting arrested, but in the States you can yell your head off about injustice and no one pays any attention. Which is worse?"

I can never get all that exercised about ALA's largely manufactured banned books drama, and yesterday I saw a number that was a lot scarier than their reported 460 book challenges in 2010. As reported in the PW of April 12th,  the Association of American Publishers says juvenile hardcover book sales in February of this year were down 48.5% from those of a year earlier.


Anonymous said...

Yikes. The Atlantic has a point. What if we held a book-burning and nobody came?

Anonymous said...

"books are so irrelevant"

I'm a children's librarian and I see many students every day to whom books are not irrelevant. But, they are no longer their only source of stories, ideas, information etc.

My take on why there are fewer challenges is:
1. When faced with the content on the WWW, video games, TV and all the other media, a book, even a controversial one, can seem pretty tame.
2. Most libraries have formalized challenges to the point that people are seeing that it is futile to resist. Our school board has adopted a board policy that no books will ever be removed from our libraries.

And, I agree with you, Roger, ALA's book challenge campaign has also seemed almost hysterical to me.

And, to be even more critical, I think many librarians' knee jerk reaction to anyone saying that a book might be inappropriate for some children is a little hysterical also.

Only my opine from the Backside of Nowhere.

Erin said...

I liked the point in the Atlantic article about the Twilight books: for once, someone is complaining not because of the super-natural storyline, but because of the protagonist's self-sacrificing personality. Although I am not sure that would really affect a teenage girl who is reading it(just because we like a character doesn't necessarily mean we want to BE him/her), it is a very valid point.

Anonymous said...


It kind of drives me around the twist, though, to have the same people who said, "Your kids are not going to become a militant atheist just because they read a Pullman book," turn right around and say, "But young girls shouldn't read Twilight!"

Moira Manion said...

48.5%, in just a year! I wonder if it's primarily due to the recession, and how paperback sales compare for the same period.

Roger Sutton said...

Moira, according to the same report, juvenile paperback sales dropped about 15% while sales of adult trade books of all kinds were up (and e-books up enormously). The largest single reason for the big drop in juvenile hardcover is the absence of a book that sells in the numbers of a Stephenie Meyer, whose Breaking Dawn was still going strong a year ago. Along with the challenge presented by competing media, another thing publishers invested heavily in YA will need to deal with soon is the passing of that little population boomlet into adulthood.

To Anon from the Backside of Nowhere, I think there probably is plenty of organized parental objection to various TV shows and internet sites, but such campaigns generally speak to their own choirs. Publishing and libraries are in the ALA choir, so discussions of book challenges have greater resonance among us. Plus, public money is generally involved, as is political hay.

Moira Manion said...

Thank you, Roger. I imagine we may see a rise in middle-grade and younger readers, judging from what looks like a boom in those ages. It felt as if the market in YA was glutted (the amount of shelf space for YAs in my local Barnes & Noble is mind-boggling), and that inevitably its bubble would burst as teens moved on to older books. I know of an agent who's just begun accepting YA submissions, because the market was doing so well. I wonder if she'll start accepting middle-grade submissions now?

Anonymous said...

nowadays parents don't "ban" books or TV shows, they just let it be known that they don't think much of some specific show - which constitute a RECOMMENDATION !