Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Highlights for Adults

It happens twice a year.

Twice a year PUBLISHERS WEEKLY turns the spotlight on children’s books. In February they publish the big “Spring Children’s Announcements Issue” and in July we get the “Fall Children’s Announcement Issue.”

Each of those issues always contains an interview with a children’s or young adult author, colorful advertisements that whet your appetite for upcoming books and -- best of all -- a publisher-by-publisher listing of every new book slated to be released in the coming season.

I’ve subscribed to PW for twenty years, holding onto this subscription even when I quit getting other children’s review magazines due to their rising costs or simply because I no longer liked their content or trusted their reviews. When I first subscribed to PW in the late 1980s, the annual price of subscriptions was under $100 -- a lot of money, but I could justify it because it was a weekly magazine. Year after year the price went up, but then so did the quality of the magazine (particularly when Sara Nelson took over the editorial reins.) But this year when the renewal notice arrived, I realized that with increasing costs everywhere (health insurance, gasoline, etc.), I just couldn’t afford to pay $225/year at present. So for the first time since 1987, I regretfully had to let my subscription lapse, with the hope that I’ll someday be able to afford this publication again....

The good news is that, even though the expiration date on the address label says my last issue should have been 19NOV07, I’ve continued getting issues in my mailbox ever since. I know they’ll stop any day, but I’m glad that this week I at least got the Spring Children’s Announcements one last time.

I can’t tell you how much I enjoy PW’s Announcements issues. With black pen and yellow highlighter in hand, I go through the magazine page by page with the exuberance of the proverbial “kid in a candy store” -- nodding and smiling to see familiar authors listed with forthcoming books, shaking my head in disbelief at some of the stranger titles (CANNED by Alex Shearer -- “What happens after Fergal finds a finger in a tin can.”), deciding what titles I MUST read ASAP, highlighting titles I definitely plan to buy, jotting notes or question marks next to others I’m still considering....

And just when you get to the end of the Spring Announcements, there’s the “Fall 2008 Sneak Previews,” a compilation highlighting many of the books we can look forward to in the NEXT publishing season. Reading these two sections of PW, we can spot publishing trends in children’s books (this year there are fewer celebrity books -- hurray! -- but many more novels about vampires, shape-shifters, and the undead), know what books to look out for in the coming months, and which books to avoid. Next year’s Newbery and Caldecott winners are probably mentioned somewhere in this issue; we just don’t know it yet. And other books may never be heard from again -- their citation in this issue the first and last major attention they’ll ever get.

During the course of 2008, this issue of PW will never be too far from my desk, as I continue to highlight more titles in yellow, cross others out, jot down notes, and try to save up money so I can somehow resubscribe next year -- because I realize I really can’t do without it!


Esperanza said...

Let's hope that a Good Fairy at PW reads the blog and decides to extend your subscription indefinitely.

Peter D. Sieruta said...

Ha, that would be nice! But I think I'd better count on saving my pennies over the course of the year so I can resubscribe.

Also, someone told me that you can buy/order just the two big children's book issues each year for a few dollars each. I'll have to look into that as well.

Thanks for reading my blog!