25 August 2007

Why Children's Book Week Is Rising Up in the Calendar

Late last year the Children's Book Council was shaken up by budget cuts, a new Executive Director, and a change in strategy. My analysis focused on how the organization was trying to shift from promoting children's books because they're a Good Thing to promoting children's books because its bills are paid by companies that publish children's books.

I quoted this line from a Publishers Weekly article about the new strategy:

The consensus from members [i.e., children's-book publishers] is that they want it first and foremost to be a trade association, with a mission of supporting its members' business.
Now the CBC has made a quite visible outward manifestation of those changes: shifting its Children's Book Week reading promotion from November to May in 2008 and future years. And that's kicked up some concern from children's librarians.

Elizabeth Bird at Fuse #8 shares the CBC's rationale for the change, which mentions some difficulties the November timing had created for some teachers and librarians. Note, however, the message's mentions of "entire children's book community" and "all constituencies." I read that as hinting, "You know, we have to think about other people besides librarians."

Publishers and booksellers already have a lot of promotions slated for November. That's when they push their big holiday books: titles directly tied to Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannukah, and so on; glossy gift books; handsome reissues of childhood classics. November and December are already busy times for retailers.

May, on the other hand, has only Mother's Day as a promotion. Placing Children's Book Week there can give publishers and stores a chance to promote Summer Reading to families at a time when sales are typically slow. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

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