Friday, December 28, 2012

By The Book

In one of my volunteer stints at my kids’ schools, I helped a K-8 librarian get rid of old books to make room for new.

She gave me a list which showed the publication date of each book and how many times it had been checked out over the years. The books we were getting rid of were the ones that had never been checked out, some sitting on the shelves since the school opened its doors in 1956. These books stood right next to books on the same subject (I was in the nonfiction section) that had been checked out dozens of times.

Hey, if I could figure out what caused kids to pick one book over another, I could get rich – or, at least, be a successful book author, right?

I don’t know about that. One complication for books written for children is they have to please two audiences: the adults who buy them and the children who may or may not read them.

Here’s what I gleaned from being in the stacks:

Books about hamsters, dinosaurs and trucks are very popular and have been for decades.

Isaac Asimov wrote a number of books explaining math concepts, up to algebra, to children. Sounds great to me. Sadly, not one had ever been checked out.

The older the book, the more long-winded the author tended to be.

Apparently, back in the old days, your eccentric neighbor could pen a book about anything and get it published.  A large number of the books I was pitching seem to have been written about what the author saw outside her window or during his daily walk.

Apparently, the adult buyers were an easier sell than the kids.

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