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And parental influence, conservative by nature, will always be a factor.It will take another generation before children of today’s digitally engaged parents become readers.In a world where men fly planes into towers and are celebrated as heroes by the vile culture that breeds them, we need a new kind of hero that symbolizes our battle against such evil.
But tracking the ups and downs of the publishing business will more likely result in whiplash than insight.
Last December, for instance, Jonathon Sturgeon, literary editor of , observed that YA and children’s books were “substantially driving total e-book sales.” Less than six months later, he wrote that revenues from e-books were “nearly in freefall, especially in the category of Children/Young Adult books.” A Nielsen report from last December, “Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover: Tech-Savvy Teens Remain Fans of Print Books,” is a more useful indicator of what’s going on.
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.
When I started in publishing forty years ago, YA literature was in its infancy.
In the 1970s, authors like Judy Blume (, and other generally rose-tinted stories about children and young adults that had prevailed in the marketplace for decades.That reading public for young adult books is growing and will keep growing, and publishers—large and small, mainstream and nontraditional—are committing enormous resources to meet its needs.For the new reader, it’s a golden age of young adult literature.The genre is also breaking out of its boundaries, with the crossover between adult and young adult that’s apparent in the “new adult” category and the burgeoning of graphic novels that defy facile categorization. Such boundary breaking is not only great for readers; it anticipates the impact the digital revolution is having on publishing, including YA literature.The impact of this revolution on children’s and teen reading is much debated, largely because it’s big business.A hero who is a great villain to all those who had a good day on 9/11/01.Ready or not, here comes about twin brothers, Killian Duke & Salaam Duka, whose Muslim background comes to the forefront of their lives on 9/11.Killian responds to the atrocity by creating a pigskin clad superhero called Pigman, a comic book about an ex-Muslim who becomes the jihadist's worst nightmare, as Salaam fully submits to Islam, committed to personifying the religion as a born again Muslim.The most significant development in publishing in the last forty years is the emergence of a vibrant 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.It’s not so fine if you don’t—and few do—or if you’re just starting out.