Whatever you might feel for Twilight: deep abiding love, disdain, jealousy (if you're a writer), or whatever, you have to consider the possibility that it is, indeed, serving as a "gateway drug" to further reading. So there's that. The movie may even be responsible for getting people to pick up books. Robert Pattison himself may be responsible! Such is the case with my thirteen-year-old niece, who has been an indifferent reader up till now. My mom took her to see Twilight and she was smitten. Bella (as my niece happens to be named, though I still call her by her kid name "Izzy") turned to my mom during the final credits and said in a kind of hushed whisper, "Nona, that was the best movie I've ever seen." (i.e.: "Nona, I [heart] Edward Cullen.")
And then she read the book. And then the next one. And then the next. And yeah, then Breaking Dawn. Which, all told, probably surpasses her sum total pages read to date. In one month. And that's awesome. And what's more awesome? She's now, reportedly, reading the books I gave her for Christmas (Dream Girl and How To Ditch Your Fairy) because, you know, she's run out of Twilight!
I lovvvvvve hearing this, not just because I adore my niece and the only thing that could make me adore her more is her becoming a reader, but because I had wondered if this might be happening. I had wondered if Twilight made readers, as reportedly Harry Potter did. I've had conversations in the supermarket line with grown women who've read the books 5 times each but have not, then, taken the next natural step of seeking out more YA (just as too many adult Harry Potter readers don't go on to read other YA/MG fantasy). I didn't know what the story was with teens. Are they rereading Twilight to death, or are they picking up other books? (Librarians and parents out there? Any anecdotal evidence?)
There is one more thing I want to mention that ties in here, albeit in a sucky way. Having drinks recently (my good old fizzy water cocktail!) with some writer friends, I heard something very unsettling: a book by an author I don't know has been pushed by her publisher from this year to next, which is something that happens sometimes. Books get pushed. The reason this one did is because Barnes & Noble didn't pick it up. You may or may not know this, but Barnes & Noble is god and devil to writers, because: there is basically one national buyer for each category, and if they choose not to buy your book . . . well then, the chances of your book finding its way to readers diminish sadly. With the domino-like disappearance of independent bookstores, writers are increasingly dependent on chains to sell their books, and we are deeply, deeply grateful when they do. However, with one buyer for all the stores, and limited shelf space, there are books that get left out on a much larger scale than if an indie store here or there doesn't order it. There's no inherent evil at work: chains are certainly not out to stifle writers, but there's no getting around it: the death of independent book stores means: less choice for browsers.
But the reason any of this old news is relevant is that in this particular case, the rumored reason that B&N did not pick up this title was because they only want dark, edgy YA, a la Twilight. Eeeeek!
Okay, this is total gossip-hearsay. I may have it all wrong. It may not be true. There's room and desire for every kind of book, right? Light humor romance, heartfelt historical, contemporary lit fic, sports books. Whatever. We need it all!! But if the story of my niece is an epidemic, if there are hundreds and thousands of teen girls who've run out of Twilight and need more, and they're going into bookstores and libraries asking what to read next that's like Twilight . . . maybe bookstores are responding to that.
It's a trend-driven business. Of course. It's the readers' fault, not the bookstores', right, at the root of things? The stores are only responding to demand. Publishers are consistently valiant in the way they go on publishing untrendy good books as much as they possibly can, though I think they often have no choice but to put their promotion dollars toward the trendy "hot" titles, which nowadays seem to be the dark, edgy, supernatural YA. (I ought not to complain about that trend just now, as Lips Touch fits that description!) Thank goodness for libraries, who will support a wide range of titles. But publishers and writers can't depend just on library sales, and besides Amazon, B&N has to be the single biggest book channel out there, yeah? I think?
Anyway, this is all just interesting as a good news/bad news scenario. Great that new readers are being "minted" as teens, too bad that trends make or break good books. I suppose that's nothing new, but in our increasingly corporate, chain-store world, perhaps trends have more influence than they ever did before.