Friday, June 12, 2009

De-childing the Teen Section, a Work in Progress

It all started when I made the suggestion (and the gang agreed) to move our teen section out of the kids' department. The section was set up so that books for the youngest kids were at the entrance, and as you moved to the back of the section, the age level went up, with young adult and teen titles along the back wall of this store alcove (the store is basically a blocky robot, with a kids penisula coming out of its ear).

The first thing I wanted to do was reverse the flow, putting books for younger kids in the back and moving the young adult titles up to the entry way. Why would a teenager want to wade through board books to get to books he or she wanted? Boswell continued the labeling we used previously at Schwartz--"young adult" titles are adult approved, whereas "teen" titles, have some adult-style content, without a lesson necessarily attached. It's not an exact science.

We still noticed that though they were in the store, readers of the section were heading to the section for Stephenie Meyer, but not much else. Other bookstores had moved their teen sections totally out of the kids area. At the Brookfield Schwartz, this transitioned into their pop/humor/graphic novel/music/film sections nearby. The problem with Boswell was that these books were on the other side of the store, and it didn't make any sense to move them near kids. But we did see high school and college-age folks near these sections, also located by our magazines.
And I don't think we're doing well enough with teen books, considering that our friends at college bookstores say this is a very strong category for them, and we are very close to a large university.

So we moved the mountain to Muhammad. The section is about as far from the kids section as it can be. Right now it still has the cutesy purple sign. That will change. Will I have strength for the next challenge, renaming the section to something a bit less "Happy Days"? Hey, we can always change the name back, or move it again.

Now the only problem is, I still can't exactly tell the difference between the sections. Hunger Games seems to be adult-themed but gets good reviews so it's in YA? Is our case really filled with mostly vampire knockoffs? This conversation is to be continued...


jordan said...

and Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan should NOT be in Teen, it should be in YA. i will always contest it's placement. no adult content, just a cute little love story. the only objection there could possibly be to this book is from the AFA.

but, i'm glad you're still experimenting.

Nicole Magistro said...

We have this discussion in our store almost weekly. Right now "Young Adult" means anything 12 and up content-wise, and is near graphic novels, fantasy, sci-fi, humor and magazines... I'm thinking about a "cross-over" fiction section for books like Hunger Games, Book Thief, Secret Life of Bees and all thos YA books that would have been released as adult fiction 20 years ago. Have you considered anything of the sort?
- Nicole, Bookworm of Edwards

Daniel Goldin said...

Hi Nicole,
We still put "Secret Life of Bees" in adult, but that raises the question of the folks that would do the opposite, move the books published as adult titles into the YA section. It works when you have enough books to cross-shelve, but since we can't fill the store with twos, it instead becomes a battle of the booksellers. I think having a crossover section, however, is not a bad idea for either a permanent seciton, or perhaps a rotating display or couple of shelves, a la staff recs.