"Children's Publishing Today" was the topic of the Bookbuilders of Boston/Emerson College forum I attended last night. Though the first two words always inspire warm fuzzies, that "today" bit made me a little wary. There's no doubt that the field is changing fast, and I kind of feared that we'd spend much of the evening looking at sales figures indicating that only apps need apply.
Panelists Yolanda Scott of Charlesbridge, Mary Wilcox of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Amy Pattee of Simmons College did talk about change. Many of the attendees raised questions that were relatively new, and both the questions and their answers got me thinking about the implications of technology's new roles in reading. But my fears of doom-and-gloom prognostications were not realized.
You see, all three panelists had plenty to say about the content of books. In such a rapidly changing market, it would be easy to focus mostly on keeping up and let those old concerns become a low priority, but phrases like "compelling characters" and "authentic voice" still came up plenty last night. At dinner afterward, a group of us kept talking about the state of the children's book world, and what kids are reading was at least as prevalent a topic as how they're reading it.
If that's not enough to put you in a good mood, get the hilarious Amy Pattee talking about Sweet Valley High. I can pretty much guarantee that'll do the trick.