Who are we really selling our books to?

ImageWe had some great conversations about Return to Sender at our first book group meeting earlier this week.  A particularly interesting discussion came up about the marketing of books for young adult readers, especially those books, like Return to Sender, aimed at our middle school students.  If you look at the new cover for Return to Sender, the children appear to be quite young–perhaps third or fourth grade?  Yet, the book’s target audience is 5th grade and up. Engaging our middle school students in reading can be hard enough, even with a good story, but covers like this aren’t helping us.  In fact, as one educator pointed out during our discussion, covers like this keep her students from reading some really great books.  While the story may be quite relevant and engaging, the cover is anything but something a young teenager wants to relate to.  Which led us to question–who are these books being marketed to? Are publishers attempting to sell to parents, teachers and librarians instead of the young adult readers themselves? We know publishers have figured out the power of a good cover for adult readers, and even older students–Twilight and The Hunger Games are just two examples of that. What can we as educators do about the situation?  How do we get our students to look past the covers?  How do we get publishers to market to our middle school readers instead of their parents and teachers?

One thought on “Who are we really selling our books to?

  1. I haven’t read this book, but I can guarantee that my 4th graders would be bored before we even opened the book. Two kids conversing in the middle of nowhere is not going to be an intriguing idea for my urban ELL students. If it’s a good representation of what the book is about, than I’m out. It sounds like it’s not an appropriate cover, so I’ll have to look into it.

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