Food for thought…

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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:

  1. It’s not only about presentation and promotion: a dodgy product won’t go viral, so first, write a GREAT book.
  2. Present yourself to kids.  Real people doing real things and being honest about it, is something kids can appreciate.
  3. 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.
  4. Be happy to talk about what you do.  In fact, just be happy, nobody’s interested in a sad-sack!
  5. 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?

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4 responses »

  1. 1. It’s not only about presentation and promotion: a dodgy product won’t go viral, so first, write a GREAT book.
    Yes, dream #1 🙂

    2. Present yourself to kids. Real people doing real things and being honest about it, is something kids can appreciate.
    Lots of authors don’t like the idea of real human contact … getting over the ‘writer in the attic’ issue is key to this … mostly i think it’s bacause writers haven’t yet become part of the conversation and want to remain just the sender

    3. 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.
    See above … media today are conversations

    5. Book networks are 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?
    The linear network is all about sales, which is what pays the bills. there are ways into this puzzle, however …

  2. I like the way you’re thinking, Rebecca. Web 2.0 (and beyond…) technology would seem to be the perfect tool for the library environment, and yet we’re being very slow in embracing its possibilities!

    I like the idea of writers becoming ‘part of the conversation’ (as per comment #1). We’ve got the new tools/technologies, we’ve got the new social practices….so why wouldn’t we consider the new opportunities for doing things differently? Makes sense to me! And if it enriches the experience for all involved – so much the better!

  3. Hmmm…and studies have shown that new consumers of texts (of all kinds) are more likely to read if they have the opportunity to respond, surely engaging them in a conversation provides this option without the book becoming less of a book and more of a blog???

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