Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Getting Trendy

To what trends are publishers turning in hopes of gathering a few new readers?

I often reference trends in children's publishing when writing reviews for books. Although most publishers will tell you they sty away from trends all you have to do is peruse the local bookstore to see that every publishing house tries to take advantage of the latest trend to some degree. Barbara Fisch is the founder of Blue Slip Media, a company devoted to publicity and marketing for children's books. After spending the last 15 years providing publicity for Harcourt children's books she found it difficult to put her finger on a current trend. "Children's hardcover publishing tends to shy away from following trends, though certain trends do take hold (e.g., vampire books)," she offered.

After Harry Potter there was a glut of books about children with magical powers, wizards, witches, dragons and more. Pirates tried to take hold but then things shifted to vampires and werewolves with the publishing of, The Vampire Diaries, Twilight, and Vampirates. Fantasy still seems to be going strong with series like Fablehaven, The Sisters Grimm, and 100 Cupboards. But there are other trends too.

Phyllis Tildes is an award winning author and illustrator with several books published by Charlesbridge. Her latest, for which she was the illustrator only, is Plant Secrets, by Emily
Goodman. When asked about trends she first pointed out the slew of celebrity children's books, which we both agree include some good ones and some awful ones. Tildes also pointed out the trend towards graphic novels and mentioned that fantasy and darker subjects like family dysfunction are still pretty current. 

Tildes hopes to see a trend toward quieter books. "Picture books for the young child need to provide a safe haven," she said. "Quieter books are also needed as so much in the media world is frenetic, loud, fast paced, and feeds a short attention span." She'd like to see editors take the power to choose the best written and artistic creations for children, rather than "what appears to be mass market-driven drivel."

Of course, as artist and author Nicole Seitz pointed out, there are always the classics. With her newest book published by Tommy Nelson, A Hundred Years of Happiness, now in stores Seitz is making the rounds to publicize it. While in the bookstores she keeps her eyes open. "As a parent of two children under six, I love reading the classics that are repackaged with new illustrations," she said. They recently read the original text of The Wizard of Oz with "new, unusual illustrations." 

As far as trends go Seitz said middle grade fiction series are still big and she believed there were more attempts to package non-fiction to children as well. But her favorite recent discovery has nothing to do with the trends. "As a fiction writer myself, I just love a good
story," she said. "There's no substitute for that." during one of her searches she found Inside the Slidy Diner, by Laurel Snyder. With gorgeous illustrations, and dark, quirky text, Seitz said her children were as enamored with the book as she was.

I guess I know what I'll be reading next. After all, none of us really care about trends — we just want to read a great story.