Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hot Topics: "B&N Divides Out Teen Fiction Genres"

Tip of the Day: This is the best Pumpkin Fudge EVER. Try it!

I've been watching too much of The View lately. My favorite part of the show is Hot Topics where they pull some current event from the news and all weigh in on it. Really, they should do the whole show in this format. I turn it off when they move on to Blahblah celebrity promoting her great new movie. But ANYWAY, here's what I want to talk about. If you have a minute go read this article about Barnes and Nobles dividing up the teen fiction section.

Ok, if you didn't go read, here's a snippet from the article:

"In a sign of just how popular teen fiction has become, Barnes & Noble is in the midst of rearranging its teen fiction section chain-wide this week in an effort to improve the shopping experience and boost sales. Already teen fiction is the biggest book growth category at Barnes & Noble, according to Mary Amicucci, v-p of children’s books. In terms of volume, it is the second largest subject, behind adult fiction.

After testing the concept at a Barnes & Noble store in Hackensack, N.J., three weeks ago, the chain pushed the go button to reorganize all its teen sections by separating out the two most popular genres—paranormal romance and fantasy and adventure—from teen fiction."

Hmph. Honestly? This bothers me. And it's hard to explain why because maybe I'm just overreacting or whatever. I mean, on one hand it's a good thing that teen books are getting so much attention, yay for them selling so well and being #2 to adult fiction. But the categories thing? Why does this make me feel like Unless you're Twilight or Twilight-esque you suck the big suck and we'll shelf you in the back of the store right before you hit the bathroom? If you're paranormal romance or fantasy yay, you'll get all of our love and attention. But the rest of you commercial fiction books, hit the road where we don't have to look at you. Sigh. It's kind of depressing right? It feels like more of the same stuff that already goes on in publishing. Where certain books are given huge amounts of marketing money and big push from the publisher and the rest kind of struggle to get any attention. Now even at the stores, someone who might have stumbled upon your book because, yes, it was near Twilight and caught their interest, might never see it now because it's placed in a less popular section.

Okay, weigh in on this hot topic. B&N divvying up the teen fiction genres-- good or bad?

Kristina, Miss See Me on the Shelves (but nowhere near Twilight)


Kate Fall said...

One of the main reasons I write YA is because it ISN'T separated into strict categories like adult fiction is. I like SciFi/paranormal/romance/humor novels. So no, I'm not in favor of this branding at all. But maybe other people read differently.

I don't think contemporary fiction is going to be backwater, though. A backwater with Sara Zarr and Meg Cabot and Sarah Dessen and Nancy Werlin and Ellen Wittlinger and ... Lauren Conrad? OK, I could just keep naming names, I had to stop somewhere.

Kristina Springer said...

Yeah, but they specifically say they're going to showcase fantasy and paranormal and the rest will be in the other. Blah.

BookChic said...

I've seen this in Borders stores already. They have two sections, though still in the same area, of regular teen fiction and then fantasy/paranormal. It hasn't really bothered me all that much.

I mean, it sucks for those of us who just browse all the shelves no matter what order they're in, but I think this could be helpful. If Twilight and the like are across the way from the contemporary teen fiction, maybe more teens would venture into the section now that it's "separated" in a way from Twilight.

Personally, it doesn't bother me too much, especially since it's just like three sections. And it does make a bit of sense. Also, it didn't sound to me like they were giving all the love to paranormal and fantasy. Yes, they're pulling it out, but they'll be in the same general area. Like the Borders example above, it was just contemporary A-Z, then fantasy/paranormal A-Z. They weren't in separate areas of the store, nor was one favored over the other.

Also, the entire teen fiction in my local B&N is right near the bathrooms, lol.

Jennie said...

While I certainly understand your objections, I'm actually rather excited by this.

First off, my local B&N has had these categories unofficially separate for years, on their "what's hot" display tables.

But I like the fact that it shows that teen fiction is an age level, not a genre.

If we start recognizing this more, than maybe we'll get fewer people making such stupid statements as "all teen fiction is X" because we know it's not. It's a greatly varied field and I hope that this will highlight that to people who don't spend as much time as we do analyzing it.

Kate Fall said...

OK, Jennie makes some very valid points! But I've always wished adult fiction was treated more like YA fiction on the shelves rather than the other way around. I guess I'm specifically bugged by the marketing of names like James Patterson and how every book has to be pigeonholed and marketed so tightly. Not knocking Patterson or Janet Evanovich, but I don't want YA shelves to become books with huge numbers 12! 13! 14! on the covers because only gimmicks sell books.