Heading To The Dictionary To Define A Publisher

September 6th, 2005 · No Comments
by Booksquare

We often find our curiosity piqued by clever names. We gaze upon them in wonder, trying to understand deeper meanings and whatnot. Some are obvious, some require the use of the dictionary. Such was the case of young adult publisher (or rather sub-division of Penguin, etc) Razorbill. Surely it had some catchy, oblique connection to the target market. So, according to Dictionary.com:

razorbill, n : black-and-white northern Atlantic auk having a compressed sharp-edged bill

Okay, the above definition is not helpful. Surely there is more to the young adult experience than obscure birds. Let us turn to Kristen Pettit, of the publisher, to explain the signficance:

I prefer to think of Razorbill’s books as modern and original. They’re fresh, but they’re also worthwhile reading. Whether they lean toward the complex and literary, or the fast-paced and fun, a Razorbill book seeks to fuse entertainment and significance—to varying degrees. We hope that each and every one of our books works on more than one level for our readers.

Razorbill seems to be addressing what has long been our concern when it comews to YA and the discerning reader:

Mediabistro: When I was a teenager, at a certain point I moved on from “official” teen and kids’ literature to adult novels marketed to adults. Is there an age at which teens no longer want to read “YA” types of books in the interest of being (or appearing) sophisticated, or is that not an issue? Are teens more likely to get into a book because of marketing buzz and hype than adults?

Pettit: I don’t think teens get into books because of marketing hype any more than adults do. In fact teens are, by nature, a suspicious bunch. Their radar is sensitive to anything that sounds fake, contrived or condescending—like an adult trying to speak “teen speak”—so even the most well thought out marketing campaign can backfire if it isn’t played exactly right. In the end, I believe teens respond less readily to marketing than older people.

I do think that the line between YA books and adult books is blurring. That’s a part of Razorbill’s mission—to produce books that don’t condescend to our readership either in their content or their presentation.

File Under: Publishers and Editors