Thursday, April 10, 2014

Let's Talk About... The Next "Blah Blah", For Fans of "Author McAuthorPants"

Do y'all ever get tired of those ever present labels telling us that books are the next Harry Potter, next Hunger Games, next Twilight, next whatever? Do you want to punch something that claims a book is for fans of John Green, J.K. Rowling, whoever? Because I am and do.

I love Harry Potter. I love The Hunger Games. I love John Green. I understand that marketing wants to pull in readers of massively popular franchises, books, and authors. I get that. But can't they sell books in other ways too? I don't pick up books because someone likens it to Harry Potter or The Hunger Games anymore. I don't look up an author because someone says their writing will appeal to fans of John Green (I apologize for the constant John Green mentions, but I can't think of another author people are really touting right now, so you get John Green.) I pick up books and seek out authors that appeal to me. I want to read the synopsis of a book and get excited because it's original, because it captures my imagination and emotions. 

I also understand using this method to sell books to people who don't read quite so often, who maybe watch a movie adaptation of a book and go seek out the book. But I see this kind of marketing in places where most of the people who'd see it are avid readers. I also get the idea behind displays compiled by an individual or librarian that's along the lines of, "If you like John Green, try..." There's a difference between when someone is encouraging people to read past their immediate comfort zone and a marketing team labeling anything and everything with what they think will make a book sell. I want to make that distinction.

And I feel a lot of the time these comparisons aren't remotely applicable. I'm sure y'all have seen some random dystopian book that's said to be for fans of The Hunger Games, but it ends up not incorporating
any of the same elements of THG aside from being a dystopian. At times there are books that aren't dystopians that are actually closer intellectually to contemporaries or fantasy, but that's not how they're sold and readers go into them with completely skewed expectations.

I feel like I'm coming off a bit curmudgeonly here, and I don't mean to. I'm not saying there's a reason to be rid of these comparisons, because they do have value, even as I'm desperately tired of seeing the tables at Barnes & Noble filled with books that don't really go together and sick of seeing things labelled the next Harry Potter. I guess I'd like to see it used more specifically and less often, making that label mean something again.

What do you think? Do you find those phrases useful and/or applicable to what they're applied to? 

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