Book Chat: This week in books…

Happy Saturday everyone!

I hope you all had a lovely week filled with amazing reading! It has been an interesting week in the world of books with many ups and downs. Perhaps the most exciting is the countdown to the release of Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee due out on July 14th. According to BBC News, online retail giant Amazon has reported that pre-orders for the book has exceeded those of the final Harry Potter. While actual numbers haven’t been released, Harper Collins in the US have confirmed their first print run of two million copies for the US alone. This is a gi-normous print run; part of my job involves adding quantities to print runs and I am lucky enough to be involved in one of the most exciting releases in 2015 (other than this title) and the print run is not even close to this – across multiple formats! It is such an exciting time and I cannot wait to see the reviews and opinions once people start reading it. Here is the blurb:

“Go Set a Watchman is set during the mid-1950s and features many of the characters from To Kill A Mockingbird some twenty years later. Scout (Jean Louise Finch) has returned to Maycomb from New York to visit her father Atticus. She is forced to grapple with issues both personal and political as she tries to understand both her father’s attitude toward society, and her own feelings about the place where she was born and spent her childhood.”

Due out July 14!

Due out July 14!

I must admit I haven’t read To Kill A Mockingbird – I KNOW! How is this even possible? Somehow I avoided studying it at school and at university however I will be reading it this week, as I will be starting Go Set A Watchman the moment it is released. This is one book I won’t be leaving until later to read. I think it will be exciting to read it along with the rest of the world and be immersed in the hype – as opposed to another book recently released with a huge amount of hype, this one should be a seriously good quality read. Watch this space!

It has also been a week of controversy around YA fiction. A hugely popular male YA author had some really unfortunate accusations thrown his way and as a result, the Internet has suffered a small ‘meltdown’. A young female teen blogger made some insinuations about this particular author and I don’t think she quite understood the consequences of what she was doing or the danger of what she actually said. Without going into details, it has shown the darker side of the Internet and the way things are stretched and manipulated from their original meaning and context. The author in question made an attempt to defend himself but of course it has just added fuel to the fire. It raises an interesting question: how are these authors to wade through the unchartered waters of the Internet and crazy fans? Should they interact with the fans to the level that they do?

There are many adult authors writing about teens for teens and as a result, they have thousands or even millions of teens going mad over them. I admire the way these authors dedicate themselves to social media and their fans however, should there be a line drawn? Is it an impossible thing to do?

These fans want to know every detail of the author’s lives and the lives of their characters and they will jump on every opportunity to connect with the author. There is an insane amount of memes, gifs, Tumbler, Instagram and Twitter pages dedicated to these authors and their characters. It is highly obsessive behaviour and one bad word can turn these lovers into haters. These authors love what they do but they do not insert themselves into these thriving fan bases to stroke their egos. The fan bases build and grow around the authors of their own accord from the choices and responses of their readers.

YA's bestsellers... all overseas authors.

YA’s bestsellers… all overseas authors.

On the Australian YA front, some of our top YA authors are banding together along with the hashtag #LOVEOZYA to try and raise awareness for Australian YA authors and their books. We have some marvellous stories in the market and I have been making a real effort this year to read as much as I can. With books such as Divergent, The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, The Fault in Our Stars and Throne of Glass dominating our reading piles, why is it that Australian YA isn’t hitting the same mark? Why are our authors not receiving the same level of recognition? Should our publishers be doing more to raise awareness and market them differently? While I admire what these Aussie authors are doing, I worry that their campaign may leave readers feeling slightly alienated or shamed because they enjoy the likes of The Hunger Games but couldn’t name an Australian equivalent. There are times when I may be overly critical of certain books but at the end of the day, I believe in reading what makes you happy and everyone deserves that opportunity. I am also a huge champion of Australian authors and I believe wholeheartedly that they deserve far more recognition than they currently receive. So how do we raise their profiles without making people feel like they have an obligation to read these authors because they live in Australia instead of wanting to read them because they are awesome? It is something I will be pondering for quite a while and hoping that I can help make a difference in a positive way!

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