Thoughts on YA Readers –The Flash or the Fiction?

I am a high school librarian by day which gives me a unique perspective on the young adult market, since I see publishing in action from an end-user’s point of view. With a stack of freshly-chosen, hard and paper-backed beauties on my counter, I began to consider what I know about how students (YA consumers) decide which books to read.

I have seen kids come in for the newest book from their favorite author or on the recommendation of others. Some will browse for most of a period, only making their choice as the bell is about to ring under self-imposed duress. Still others go for the flashy, new cover. We all know that kids pay a tremendous amount of attention to the covers and back copy, especially when they are dealing with a debut author or one they’ve never read.

If the book is not appealing to look at, than it can’t be any good, right?

So, this conversation with myself has me thinking. What if I remove the fancy dust jackets? Would students pick up the newest Sarah Dessen if confronted with solid blue? Would they believe the book couldn’t be that good?

This has the makings of an interesting experiment in book marketing, one I am sure has been replicated before. But for those of us who have yet published, understanding why a kid will pick one book over another is important, especially if we are considering self or small press publishing. If I find the time this semester to give my little experiment a try, you will be the first to know!

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