Monday, June 27, 2011

Harry Potter Movie Rituals

Preparing for an event is sometimes as important as the event itself. Cooking Thanksgiving dinner is as important as the holiday. Finding a great pair of shoes for a big event is as important as finding the right date. Over the course of the Harry Potter movies, I have made up my own rituals. Before each movie is released I:

  • Reread the book that the movie is based on.
  • Watch the previous movie (or, sometimes, all of them). I’ve got the DVDs ready.
  • Eat the same snack at the movie - Nonpareils and Sour Patch Kids. Try it. Trust me.

Harry Potter 4 was my low point as a professional. I left work a early (with someone who reported to me) to go see the movie in the theater near our office. My boss found out. He wasn’t upset but did come up with a non-traditional punishment for us. In our weekly, company-wide email, he told everyone what we had done and encouraged all employees to ridicule us. They did. For about four months.

Do you have a pre-HP ritual? Did the movie make you do something you regret? Tell us about it in the comments and you could win a pre-publication copy of Pretty Bad Things by C.J. Skuse!

Convincing Your Friends to Like Young Adult

Some of your friends are a waste of time. Some of mine are too. They believe everything they read in the New York Times, they worship Jonathan Franzen, and think that the topics in YA are too simple for them. But the rest of them have a chance. Here are my most successful techniques for converting people into YA nuts:

  • Give them a book – Duh. This will work for about 15% of the population who read a lot and listen to NPR.
  • Target the product - Think about what themes your friend likes, then choose a YA book with a similar message. Tweeting a link to the e-book is a good technique for this.
  • Needle them – People who read adult fiction are tough. Persistence pays off. Keep gently reminding them that YA has crossed over, that the themes are timeless and that the books are really fun. Even the snottiest people like to read a good trashy drama sometimes.
  • Back into the book from the video – Moviegoers usually know which movies were books before and most of them like to talk about books versus movies. The visual art crowd is also pretty open to the book trailers that have been posted on YouTube. Some of them are beautiful and can spark an interest.
Have you ever used a technique like this to get your friend into YA? Tell us about it in the comments section and you could win a copy of Forever by Maggie Stiefvater.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Future Isn't E-books (Only)

Last year, a friend who works in publishing joked that a good holiday gift for her and her co-workers would be a shotgun shell with a post-it note attached reading, “If e-book sales eclipse print sales, insert in mouth and bite hard.” At that time, e-readers were starting to take off and people in publishing were afraid that print books were going to go the way of the dinosaur. Now, it seems more like the rise of e-books is going to be a great supplement for the publishing industry’s core business of selling print books.

At Book Expo America earlier this month, there was a consensus that at least for the next few years, most people are going to own both e-books and print books. So, while publishing is going to make less money on e-books, that cut is going to be offset by overall sales. Additionally, readers are indicating that they still like going to bookstores and buying books but also appreciate the convenience of being able to load legions of books onto an e-reader for trips and vacations. People will choose the format based on what they want from the book.

I don’t have an e-reader at this point. But I do have lots of bookcases, many of which are filled with dog-eared copies of books from my childhood and books I’ve come to love as an adult. I have a meaningful relationship with these books. In some cases, the cover art is beautiful. In other cases, I have re-read the book so many times it’s like an old friend. I can’t imagine getting rid of these books. I also have a shelf of books for work that I’d love to transfer to an e-reader. They’d be portable, searchable and they wouldn’t take up valuable real estate in my New York apartment.

Do you have an e-reader? And what do you use it for? Answer in the comments below and you could win a copy of Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa.

Which Team Are You On?

Which Team Are You On?

Shirts or skins? Republicans or Democrats? Sharks or Jets? There are so many teams to choose from! But the question dogging the YA world is Xander or Ky? Normally I have my mind made up early. Edward (not Jacob), Gryffendor (duh!)… etc. But I’m having a lot of trouble picking between Xander and Ky. Here’s how I see it:

Xander seems really stable, and secure and even a little boring. He is the complete opposite of that jerk who kissed your friend. But he’s not bland. He’s got depth and a little mystery.

Ky has a tragic story that makes even the animals at the shelter say, “Dude, that sucks.” He takes risks and he’s flawed so he’s exciting and gives you something to complain to your girlfriends about.

I’m having trouble figuring out which one is the best match for Cassia. What do you think? Enter your choice and say why in the comments below and you could win a copy of Popular by Alissa Grosso.

Saying What You Like About an Author

A few years ago I started baking cookies and other treats for the bike racing team that my husband and I coach. After a few batches of cookies I started to experiment with a pinch more of this or a dash of that. I asked the team for feedback on my changes, but few of them said much beyond, “They’re good!” It occurred to me that either the team didn’t like what I was making very much or they just didn’t know what to say. Finally, one of them explained, “The thing is, in any proportion butter, sugar and chocolate taste pretty good.”

I’ve noticed that lots of people say similar things about the authors they like. I wonder if that’s because most people forgot the analysis techniques they learned in school. I also think that the kind of close reading that this analysis requires just isn’t fun for most people. There isn’t a lot of casual dialogue like this about books. There’s a lot of it in book clubs – but that’s where it stays.

Do you think this level of analysis matters? And is the personal experience you have with a book more important than being able to talk about it and learn what other people think about it? Add your answer to the comments section below and you could win a copy of Outside In by Maria Snyder.