The Evolution of the Young Adult

The Evolution of the Young Adult

Posted on July 5 by admin
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In Canadian publishing, our issues are unique. We generally don’t like to explain how publishing works to outsiders, as they’ll start to ask too many questions, which we’ll answer by saying, “that’s just the way it’s done.” As mentioned in my last post, marketing experts from outside the industry will often come in and talk about how marketing works in other industries. It’s always very interesting to see how green the grass is on the other side, but many times, we’re still left asking the question, “how does this relate to Canadian publishing?”

The second keynote speaker at Book Summit last month was Mike Shatzkin. Mike is the founder and CEO of The Idea Logical Company. He’s been around the American publishing scene for decades in various roles including bookselling, author, agent, and now digital book consulting. His presentation was engaging and hugely entertaining. Mostly because he knows how things work. (Granted his area of expertise is the American publishing industry, but it’s close enough.) A simple thing, but a nice thing.

His presentation looked at the world of digital publishing as we move forward, and he had some rather interesting comments about future trends. One of which was the idea that in 5-7 years, print books will support digital books rather than the other way around. Is that true? I don’t know, I’d like to think it’ll take longer than that, but I suspect that Mike knows better. He also stated that YA books will become more gamified . Digital content will be more prevalent. Again, an intriguing thought, but one that saddens me. Some genres, yes, that’ll work just fine (The Hunger Games and Insurgent being two examples where it’s a natural progression.) However, it’s the more literary titles, or the fun beach reads, or the spooky ones that you want to read under the covers with a flashlight, that need to have a print element.

One summer, when I was about twelve, my family rented a cottage in Sturgeon Point. It was really more of a rambling old house, and the room that I slept in had a collection of YA novels. Included was a complete set of The Chronicles of Narnia – I had my goal. Over a two week period I burned through those books suspecting I’d never have another chance to read the entire series start to finish. Would my younger self have appreciated a digital element? Perhaps, but it seemed very appropriate to be reading a second hand copy of a classic book like that in this very picturesque location. Ah, the smell of old paper, and feel of worn pages! My daughter is now 4 ½  years old. By Mike’s calculations, she will be more likely to be reading The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe on her playbook rather than a paperback version when she’s twelve. I can try to argue and thrust the paperback version into her hands, but she’s no doubt going to tell me, “that’s just the way it’s done, mum.” Mike Shatzkin’s presentation though occasionally on the gloomy side, was also illuminating. He knows how things work now, and in the publishing future. I was inspired enough by his talk that I found his ebook, The Shatzkin Files, on his website. It’s available through Kobo for about $4 if you’re interested.