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We came, We saw, We stalked: Karen’s ALA Highlights

Last week Heather, Christie and I went to ALA in Chicago. It was epic!

Top LtoR: Karen & Christie, author Sharon Biggs Waller, Vordak, author Jonathan Maberry
2nd Row LtoR: author Cory Doctorow, author S. J. Adams and Christie, Free Comic Book Day Panel, Heather Booth reading Rose Under Fire
3rd Row LtoR: author Mindy McGinnis, Free Comic Book Day Panel, author Simone Elkeles
Bottom LtoR: author Tim Federle, author Sean Beaudoin, author Jennifer McGowan, Heather, Karen and Christie

See the complete ALA 2013 TLT Photo Album here

TLT Meet Up!

First, this is the first time that Christie and I have actually met Heather in person.  She feels like part of the family.  In fact, Heather and I just wrote an entire book together – The Whole Teen Library Handbook – but this is the first time we have met, in person, face to face.  In fact, I stayed at her house and it was totally fun.  So here we be, three of the TLT team.

Cory Doctorow Talks, We Should All Listen

At one point, I went and listened to Cory Doctorow talk about intellectual freedom, patent craziness, and more.  He made an interesting statement about how our outdoors playgrouds are often empty because parents are afraid to let their children play because we live in such a dangerous world, and yet we let our children play freely on the most dangerous playground of all – the Internet.  He made a great case for how we must do better in helping others understand this information rich world we live in while protecting their privacy and learning to evaluate the information we see.

New Adult? Or is it “New Adult”?

I also attended a session on New Adult Literature which made me very happy because I was glad to hear others saying what I thought about the issue.  1) The genre has always existed.  2) The name is troublesome because when I hear new adult, I think “oh look, here is some NEW Adult Fiction.” What do we call new titles in this genre, New New Adult?  If it were a perfect world, which it is not, we would call it Young Adult (because that’s what they are, young adults in the 19-24 age group) and call Young Adult fiction Teen Fiction, especially since the teens refer to themselves as teens.  In fact, walk into a Barnes and Noble store and they even have it labelled Teen Fiction.  3)  Yes, teens are and will read New Adult (just as they do Stephen King and Mary Higgins Clark and more) but it should be in the Adult area, not YA (or Teen Area as I like to call it). 4) New Adult has a lot of the same diversity issues as Young Adult.  You can find an overview of the session here and a link to their NA RA blog.

Karen Geeks Out Over the 3D Printer

To have a totally geeky moment: I FINALLY SAW A 3D PRINTER.  I have been truly fascinated by the 3d printer concept in part because I couldn’t figure out how it worked and what the final product looked like.  There was one in the Exhibits Hall as well as some finished products, including a model of a bridge and a working whistle.  I really want one.

Meeting the Authors – and You!

From Left to Right: Christa Desir author of Faultline, Sharon Biggs Waller author of A Mad, Wicked Folly and Mindy McGinnis author of Not a Drop to Drink

Another great part of ALA is seeing people you know and love, meeting new people, and meeting some of the authors that write the books you love.  I spent a lot of time with fellow TLTers, my mentor and adopted mom, and met some amazing authors, publishers, and Erinn Batkyefer from The Library is Incubator Project for the first time.  Even though we have been working together for 2 years now on the It Came from a Book project, this is the first time we have met in person.  She stood in line with me while I waited to get a signed copy of Fire and Ash by Jonathan Maberry.  Speaking of Maberry, I got the very first signed ARC of Fire and Ash, the final book in the Rot & Ruin series.  I also was willing to stand in line to meet Sean Beaudoin, because I like not only his books, but a lot of his online writing.

I had dinner with debut author Mindy McGinniss and an author you may have heard of, Veronica Roth.  I had the most fascinating conversation with Roth about Divergent and a scene in it, which she said if she was writing it now she might leave out.  I also got to talk to Michael Grant about the BZRK series, which is a great series and should probably be marketed as awesome Sci Fi instead of awesome YA, because I think it has just as much adult appeal (and adult voice) as the works of Michael Crichton and Phillip K. Dick.  Having now met author Mindy McGinnis in person, it looks like we may be presenting together in April at TLA (I’ll tell you more when I can make an official announcement).

I am not going to lie, I had the best time ever at ALA.  I feel like I learned a lot, met a lot of great fellow librarians and authors, and really just felt invigorated and full of new ideas that I wanted to take back and try.  And yes, I discovered a lot of new books that I want to investigate further.  In fact, I used my phone to take pictures of the covers.  I will write about the books in a separate post.

Did you go to ALA? Share your highlights with us in the comments.

New Adult: A Broken Promise, Now a Rose by Any Other Name (by Chrisite G)

I have been following with waxing and waning interest for the last few months the chatter about the “New Adult” trend that publishers have been introducing.  You can trace it back to St. Martin Press back in 2009, when they wanted to market books as coming-of-age stories with characters in their twenties.  You can actually trace it further back to an online contest, sponsored by #YALitChat, and they had a really decent turnout for it.  The winners got the first 50 pages of their manuscripts looked over by St. Martin, and a lot of them were really idealistic.  Blogger and author Kristan Hoffman, who won the contest, stated that she felt that New Adult could really take off, Especially since New Adult could offer a variety of “flavors.” Sci-fi, fantasy, romance, historical, thriller, literary … Just like the Young Adult umbrella, New Adult can (and probably will) cover all these genres and more.”

In spite of this early optimism, even the reps for St. Martin admitted back then what I keep thinking now:  that New Adult isn’t needed, and that it’s just a marketing ploy. It was a way for ADULT FICTION to expand out of its box.  Which is good- we all like things expanding outside of their boxes, and it’s nice that publishers want to reach out to a section of readers that they think need special marketing.  I think it would have been wonderful if it had taken off that way.  Books like the Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty  or Prep often live in the Young Adult section but need to find an older audience, as they might need a college aged crowd who won’t go back to a teen section once they graduate.  (Note to readers- mine continue to haunt the teen area even after they’ve graduated high school, are constantly asking me for more teen and adult books, and are actually laughing at the thought of me calling them “new adults”)

New Adult is not coming out of its box, though. Instead, publishing is wrapping things up in bright, shiny pink polka dot paper with froufrous and lace, and that’s not acceptable. If anything, it’s basically the new shiny name for chick lit and backhanded acceptance that it’s OK for a FEMALE to read.  And that makes me incensed.

If you look at some of the definitions, now New Adult is considered anything coming of age for readers 14-35.  That’s a bit of a gap developmentally- what’s appropriate for a freshman in high school is not going to be appropriate for a freshman in college or a graduate student, and a far cry from the original intent of 18-26 year olds. How, realistically, am I as librarian supposed to put together a New Adult collection with a straight face?  “Oh, here, teenager, read the bodice ripper your MOM likes.  Oh, here, adult patron, please don’t mind that we have the scantily clad covers right next to the rapidly diminishing young adult section, because it’s the NEW ADULT area.”  If you search Goodreads for New Adult titles, you get at least 300 titles:  everything from Julie Cross’ Tempest (rated YA- 14 to 18 yrs by the publisher on BN.com)  to 50 Shades of Grey.  We’ve gone far afield from college experiences, moving out, and finding our way in the real world. 

Five young adult titles that are being called New Adult on Goodreads- where would you put them?

And take a CLOSE look at titles that are being considered new adult.  Notice a pattern?  How about the fact that the vast majority of them are romantic intrigue?  So, who exactly is the New Adult category for?  Random House just announced this morning a new digital imprint for their New Adult titles- called FLIRT.  Sci-fi is called Hydra while Mysteries is called Alibi.  So, if New Adult were actually FOR people 18-26 or 18-36, why would you call it something that is going to appeal primarily to young women while alienating the vast majority of readers?  Unless you WANT it to be aimed for that segment?

Shiny imprint of New Adult called Flirt.  Plus vast majority of books being published and categorical under New Adult are romantic intrigue genre.  Therefore, New Adult = romantic intrigue books that have younger protagonists for women ages 18-26.  What happened to the coming-of-age topics?  What happened to the other flavors, the sci-fi, fantasy, historical, thriller, literary?  Between the imprint name and the marketing, what are publishers demonstrating about their opinion of the target audience?  Do they not trust young women to seek out and read quality literature?  Instead of simply encouraging them to read the good books that they want to, why do the publishers think the books have to be decked out in such a way for the target audience to choose to read them?  Why is there a stigma of guilt associated with either the content or the act of reading, such that publishers think it has to be disguised as something with stylish appearance?  

Why do we have to turn something that could have been good into basically permission-giving for people to read one particular sub-genre without guilt?

Of course, there are other arguments, both for and against New Adult.  For more on the discussion, check out:
http://dearauthor.com/features/letters-of-opinion/if-you-like-new-adult-books/
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/sep/10/new-adult-fiction
http://nymag.com/thecut/2012/09/new-adult-genre-is-misreading-its-audience.html
http://www.stackedbooks.org/2012/11/some-thoughts-on-new-adult-and-also.html
http://naalley.blogspot.com/p/about.html
http://cleareyesfullshelves.com/blog/the-new-adult-category-thoughts-questions.html
http://trishdoller.blogspot.com/2012/11/why-new-adult-isand-isnta-thing.html

Karen’s 2 Cents: How in the world could something categorized as ages 14 -17 be considered NEW ADULT? 14 year olds are not adults.