A recent article over at The Bookseller discusses examples of children’s book creators who struggle to survive financially. It contains some interesting quotes and a lively debate in the comments.
I’m not sure if one can take a few examples and start assuming that a children’s literature apocalypse is coming, but I do agree that it’s not easy to make money as a writer or as an editor. It does seem that many undeserving books are published each year, and I usually dismiss those as ones publishers hope will sell without too much effort. As long as those books make money, an editor can continue to publish the less obvious, riskier book that may be a more worthwhile read.
Remember, most book editors spend their time in the office crunching numbers and generating paperwork to defend the marketability of the titles they want to acquire, then do the majority of their reading and actual editing work on their personal time. It’s a demanding job, and it doesn’t pay well.
So, what’s the best way to maintain the quality of children’s books and to make sure good creators continue to be published? Buy those books. Recommend them to friends. Support your local library. And keep librarians in schools, so that they can continue to select the best books to help our children develop important skills and to become discerning readers in their own right.
There are quite a few recently-published young adult and middle grade novels that I’m hoping to read in the next month or so. Unfortunately, 95% of them are already checked out from every branch of my library system, and I had to put them on hold. My hold list is getting quite long.
But rather than let this rile me up, I choose to be ecstatic about it. I am thrilled that all of these books are being checked out. It means there is still a very healthy book-reading young population out there, and that books for young people are highly valued. As a fan of children’s literature, I am happy to know that I am a part of a very large fan community, composed of people of all ages and backgrounds.
I believe in supporting publishers, bookstores, and libraries. If I wanted to, I could go down to my local bookstore and purchase some of these books for myself, without having to wait for them to be returned to the library and put on a shelf for me. But the fun thing about putting books on hold is that I never know when I may get an email telling me that a book is ready for me to pick up. It’s like a surprise party whenever that happens. And in the meantime, I’ve had a chance to reread some of the books in my possession: Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones (see my previous posts about that author), The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (stay tuned for part two of the film adaptation, to be released on July 15; see a teaser trailer below).
And while I was writing this, some good news: I’m off to the library to pick up Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu from the hold shelf.
And here, the HP7P2 teaser trailer mentioned above: