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21 January 2010


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Thanks for spreading the word about the Unsung YA Heroes blog blitz! What would make your list of unsung YA? :)

reader and writer

Thanks for the link to Dolamore's blog post concerning her cover. I feel TERRIBLE for this author. I feel like other people who don't have a stake in her book sales are thrusting her into a controversy she never asked for. It's her debut book. For everyone in the blogsphere to back this woman into a corner and beg her to throw her publisher under the bus is reprehensible. I think her response was thoughtful and carefully worded. To come after Bloomsbury as a reader is one thing, but for some of the commentors on Chasing Ray to act as if she should adhere to THEIR way of thinking about HER cover is absurd.

She has her future career as a YA author to protect. That may just require an even-keeled approach -- the exact approach she's given. It's easy for those in blog land to say boycott! rail against Bloomsbury! shred all offensive covers into oblivion! THEY don't have a career at stake. Just because you are published once, doesn't mean you'll be published again.


I think it's especially important (and I do think it was brought up over at the comments at Chasing Ray -- by Gwenda, maybe?) to keep the focus on the publisher, since it's the publisher who made the decision to run with that cover. It's way doubtful that J. Dolamore had any sort of control over the cover.


I have to disagree re: BBYA. I would think that given the thousand or so books published a year for teens (and you have to figure the BBYA list runs from September 2008 - December 2009, so it's looking at 16 months worth of books) that only 90 books making this list is a pretty choosy list. Not to mention this BBYA considered adult fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels... when you think about how much is published 90 books doesn't seem like much. You should be looking at it in terms of everything that is published, not just the number of nominations- because the committee reads a lot of things that are not nominated. The stuff that is nominated are things that the nominator considers meets the BBYA charge- which is significance, literary merit, and proven or potential teen appeal.


I mostly stay out of these controversies. I do think it is an important discussion and publishers seriously need to THINK before they do those types of things. But I really feel bad for this author. I'm sure it ruined what should be a really exciting time for her.


re: BBYA. My initial reaction was, "People were complaining about reading 203 book in one year? How many books do Cybils panelists have to read in less than three months?"

That's probably uncharitable of me. But they included Broken Soup on the list, so I'm feeling a tiny bit forgiving. (Kelly, I know you weren't asking me and that you're aware of my Broken Soup love, but this would definitely make my Unsung YA list. Glad that it was on yours!)

Jackie Parker

Definitely on the GENTLEMEN train.


re: BBYA: AFAIK, the BBYA committee read far more than the 203 books that were ultimately nominated. 203 was the final number of books about which at least one committee member felt strongly. That's out of the thousand-plus (or so) books that were published last year, including the adult books, graphic novels, and non-fiction titles. I'm sure not every committee member read every book that was published, but I'm willing to bet many of them read far more than just those 203, and whittling that thousand-or-so down to less than a tenth is a pretty substantial task. 90 books is still a pretty big list and I can see looking it over and thinking "did they take everything?" But 90 isn't even close to the number of books that were eligible, so clearly they were being pretty selective.

Which I think was all stated above, but it bears repeating. Many of the final titles were ones that the teens themselves spoke out in favor of, and having a long list of books with proven teen appeal sounds pretty good to me.


Re: the explanations about BBYA from A and Brandy: That makes sense -- and I certainly wasn't trying to give the committee a hard time. And, obviously, I do see the merit in a long list. That said, if the list was pulled from a broader pool, the intro to the list doesn't really make that clear...: "The list of 90 books, drawn from 203 official nominations..."


The final list is from the 203 nominations- if a title is not nominated, it cannot make the final list (the only exception being Pritz books which are automatically added)... however, the nominations are drawn from all of the books out there that meet the criteria. So the nominations are the first step in culling the titles, then the nominted titles are discussed and culled further to get the final list, which generally ends up being between 80 and 90 titles. This year just happened to be an outstanding year for YA books and so we were on the higher end of things. I think publishers are putting more good quality books out for teens now because the market is there, teen books sales are up so they are publishing more for them (last I heard adult books were down in sales).

I hope this clarifies things- I realized you weren't giving the commitee a hard time, I just wanted to clarify that while 90 titles seems like a large final list, when you consider how many titles there are that meet the committees charge and how many titles are looked at but never nominated, it makes the 90 seem much smaller.


In case Brandy's comment was in response to me...

My comment had nothing to do with the size of the BBYA list this year, but the changes the YALSA Board made concerning the list due to the amount of reading BBYA committee members must do. While I'm sure committee members read more than the officially nominated 203 books (224 in 2009), I wish we had more hard numbers than the 90/203 we were given in order to get a clearer picture of their workload. I mean, the broad statements ("concern about the workload"?) we were given does not make me as sympathetic to the members who complained or about the changes that were made as hearing an actual number or average I can look at and say, "Yes, that is too many books for one person to reasonably read and judge critically in one year" (or, depending on the number, "That's a lot of books, maybe more than some people could read, but not unreasonable for others"), would.


This week I've had someone try to pay fines with their Benefits card and try to use their Benefits card as a substitute for their library card. In each situation they didn't understand why that wasn't a possibility.

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