No, I’m not talking about the delicious stir-fry I had for dinner last night. I’m talking about my proposal to the Auslib people. Auslib are a group of Australian library related people who specifically deal with young people. I rang them with the idea that I might be able to do a presentation at the upcoming conference on ‘re-engaging disenfranchised teens with books’. That sounds really boring, so it became “With A Bit Of A Mind Slip, You’re Into a Paradigm Shift”. Rocky Horror buffs like me will get a chuckle.
Anyway, the crux of the idea is that young people take up information and ideas differently than ‘us oldies’. Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and a myriad of other social networking sites now enable people to review products and books easily and quickly. Teens have become especially good at finding out what new technologies are great and what are not. ‘Viral’ images etc are a direct result of these social networking systems. ‘Viral’ footage is representative of what kids like and where kids are spending their time/money.
What does this mean for people in the book trade? It means we have to change the way we present our product to teens. These are my ideas so far:
- It’s not only about presentation and promotion: a dodgy product won’t go viral, so first, write a GREAT book.
- Present yourself to kids. Real people doing real things and being honest about it, is something kids can appreciate.
- Have an online presence. That’s where most kids spend lots of time nowadays, if you want to interact with them, you should be there too.
- Be happy to talk about what you do. In fact, just be happy, nobody’s interested in a sad-sack!
- Book networks are actually not networks, in fact they’re usually very linear, the writer->agent->publisher->bookseller. Kids work in networks, great big webs of interconnections, what does that say about the design of our process?
Any young ‘uns out there want to have a say? What should librarians and booksellers be doing in order to encourage you back to books?