Blog - Library Services Centre

Print Run.

 

Those two words seem so innocuous, but in publishing, they tell you a lot about a book.

 

If you’re not familiar with what a print run is, it’s the set number of copies that a publisher chooses to print of any given book up front. That decision is made by the publisher in the early planning stages, and is entirely based on how many copies they think they can sell up front.

 

Setting a print run is no easy feat. When you purchase a book for your library system, you’re using your knowledge of the author or subject to determine how many copies you think you’ll need right away to satisfy demand from your patrons, while still working within your budget. 

 

Most libraries also don't want a collection entirely comprised of top 40 picks, and making room for sleeper hits , award-winners, and midlist may require buying fewer copies of the 8 Danielle Steel books published annually. It’s a tricky balance, and is often impossible to get just right. Too few and the holds get out of control, too many, and they sit on a shelf collecting dust. 

 

Now imagine making this decision not only for your library, but for thousands of bookstore/library customers across Canada and the U.S. Print too few and you risk not having enough to fill customer orders which is never a good thing. Print too many, and there can be financial consequences for a publisher. Every unsold copy represents dollars that could have gone into publishng or promoting another title, and  in this case, having a lot of leftovers doesn’t make anyone happy.

 

The author’s previous sales, and bookstore/wholesale pre-orders definitely factor into deciding whether to print 100 or a million, as do factors such as whether film rights have already been acquired, the interest there was at auction (yes, books go to auction too), enthusiasm by staff at the publishing house, and whether it’s a book by a celebrity.

 

You might be wondering what a print run actually means, and why anybody cares about it. To the average person, it means nothing directly. Publishers generally don’t share print run information with the public, and the average person buying a book from a book store or signing it out of the library will never know how many copies are printed. However, that data is important on several other levels, some of which do indirectly have an impact on the public.

 

Believe it or not, the print run can have a huge influence on how well a book sells. The million copy plus print runs afforded to authors such as James Patterson, Jeff Kinney, Nora Roberts, Nicholas Sparks, and a handful of others definitely tells you something about the publisher’s plans for the book.

 

A book doesn’t get that kind of initial print run unless the author is well-established and/or the publisher expects there to be a huge demand. These kinds of print runs are usually accompanied by a lot of pre-pub publicity online and in the media, and have a lot of marketing dollars thrown behind them.

 

For various reasons, some authors switch publishers at some point in their career, and a new publisher may drastically increase the print run, or drastically reduce it, which can signal the buyer to buy fewer or more copies. Bestselling author Ruth Ware, didn’t become a hit until she switched publishers, and her breakout was largely a result of her new publisher's enthusiasm for her work, and an active promotional effort. 

 

When you’re a bookseller/library purchaser, the print run information can assist you in making an educated guess about how many copies you’ll need, especially if the author isn’t as well known as the superstars I mentioned above. The larger the presence the book has, the more likely it is to become a bestseller, simply because psychologically, people are drawn to a large display and assume it’s an important book worth checking out. I’ve  discovered quite a a few authors by seeing their books in volume and prominently displayed so it works!

 

At the same time, while print runs can be helpful, they don’t tell the whole story and can be deceiving. While the extremes of a few hundred or a million definitely tell you something, there’s a huge range in between, and it varies from publisher to publisher. 100k might be at the top end of the scale for a bestseller for one publisher, and average for another. The print runs announced at the time the book is first annoucned is also merely an estimate, and depending on demand, it can go up and down.

 

Another thing to keep in mind is that print runs from Canadian publishers are substantially smaller than their American counterparts, and yet some of these authors are equally or more popular than the bestselling authors whose print runs might be 2 or three times larger. It’s a given that the demand for a new Margaret Atwood will be huge, but even she doesn’t receive a million copy print run from her publisher.

 

Books are a tricky business, no question, and lacking a crystal ball that can tell us 100% how popular a book is going to be, we use the tools such as print runs to make a judgement call about how many copies of a book we think we need. But as recent break out hits such as The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones (print run 50k) or Ridgerunner by Gil Adamson (around 7k initial print run) demonstrate, you can’t judge a book by its print run!

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram @LibraryServicesCentre, and on Twitter @LSC_since1967. We also encourage you to subscribe to the Weekly Update, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Happy Reading!

 

Rachel

Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on Google+ Share on LinkedIn

The month of January has traditionally always been about making resolutions. It’s the time where we turn the page on a brand-new year and promise ourselves all manner of things from losing weight and eating fewer sweets to being more active, sleeping more, etc… While our resolve to do all of these things tends to wane partway into the month, reading resolutions are far easier to keep.

 

In that spirit, we at LSC thought it would be fun to share some of our 2022 reading resolutions with all of you.

 

To start, Jamie resolves to read more practical non-fiction about recycling with a “make do and mend” notion – how to make and repair clothing, how to reuse fabric, sustainable choices, etc. She hopes that this will lead her into reading more about composting and gardening as well. Fiction wise, she hopes to find more graphic novels by disabled authors,  and hopes to venture into some science fiction. In the past it’s been a genre that she has generally avoided, but has recently caught her interest, and she plans to read Becky Chambers and Tochi Onyebuchi in 2022 while starting on Ursula K. Le Guin now.

 

Sara resolves to actually finish the many series she has started over the past few years. She has pile of books sitting beside my bed that are all book 3 or 4 in a series that forces conspire to prevent her from finishing. She notes that she often gets as far as book 2 or 3 and then stops due to delays in publishing and then forgetting the plot and never finishing. She recently purchased the last Diana Gabaldon, Go Tell the Bees that I am Gone but still needs to finish the previous volume and maybe even re-read the previous one to refresh her memory. She also wants to start the second "A Kingdom and Fresh and Fire" in the Jennifer Armentrout 'Blood and Ash' series as well as the 4th in Sabaa Tahir "An Ember in the Ashes" which came out a while ago, but hasn’t had the time to finish.

 

I echo Sara on this one, as I think we all do. I start a duology/trilogy/series with every intention of completing it, and if I like the first book, I’ll be ravenous for the next. Something always seems to happen between the second and third book that prevents me from ever getting back to it, and I have tons of unfinished series on my shelves. There’s only so many books I can read in a year, and with so many that I want to read, it’s hard to come back to a series.

 

Karrie likens her movie watching habits to reading, and comments that while she’s a big fan of all types of genres, it’s almost always fiction that she’s drawn to. In 2022, one of her Reading Resolutions is to read more non-fiction, particularly memoirs and biographies. Being a movie buff, she’s especially interested in reading the stories behind the actors on the big screen, and learning about them beyond the characters they play.

 

Stefanie resolves to make more time in her busy schedule for reading in general, but also to try and read outside of her comfort zone and broaden her reading horizons. She’s resolving to take a chance on reading genres she isn’t normally interested in, and seeing if she likes them rather than just reading who and what she knows she likes.

 

This is one of my resolutions as well. When an author you know you like and always read comes out with a new book, it’s a lot easier to make time to read it. I think I did a good job in 2021 of reading books by authors I’ve never read before, but in some ways it wasn’t really a stretch because they are still writing in genres that I already know I enjoy. Not to say that there’s anything wrong with reading thrillers or romance novels, but there are many other genres to explore.

 

Last but not least, I resolve to be more impulsive in my reading. I’m a compulsive planner. I like schedules and routines, and I get a bit too caught up in planning what I’m going to read next, and the book after that, and the book after that. We all have To Be Read piles that seem to grow rather than shrink, and in the digital age, I often joke that my Kindle is a black hole. I have so many titles on there that I lose track of what I have, and just adding something to a pile makes it easy to forget about it and never read something I was really interested in. The only person dictating what I read for pleasure is me, and I have to allow myself to deviate from my set schedule and read something on impulse right away just because I want to.

 

I’m sure that there are plenty more reading resolutions that we could/should make, but for now we’ll try to stay on top of these and see where the year takes us.

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram @LibraryServicesCentre, and on Twitter @LSC_since1967. We also encourage you to subscribe to the Weekly Update, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Happy Reading!

 

Rachel

Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on Google+ Share on LinkedIn

Are you passionate about books and reading, and if so, are you interested in helping us shape our bestseller lists? If you are, we have an opportunity for you. We are seeking new members for the adult and juvenile bestseller committees currently working in a library setting who can apply their diverse perspectives to selecting new titles for our catalogues.

LSC’s Bestseller committees are made up of librarians along with the LSC selectors, and we meet 3x a year in over Zoom to discuss the forthcoming titles for the winter, spring/summer and fall publishing seasons.  We typically meet in October, January, and June, and the meetings last about 60-90 minutes with the discussed titles making up the committee picks section of our bestseller catalogues.

Bestsellers typically don’t need a lot of discussion. There are certain authors each season we all readily agree should be on a bestseller list, and in knowing this, we felt that our we could make better use of our members expertise and experience by giving them an opportunity to showcase some of their personal picks in the unique committee picks section of the bestseller lists rather than wasting time talking about Danielle Steel or James Patterson.

During the meeting, members have the opportunity to discuss their personal fiction and non-fiction picks with the other members, and to offer a brief explanation of what drew them to their picks. Whether it’s a buzzy debut, a hot-button topic, or just something that you personally want to read, the only criteria is that the title be suitable for the average Canadian library.

Now you might be wondering how you know what titles to pick, especially if you don’t personally meet with sales reps or do selection. Not to worry! We supply you with everything you need. Approximately one week prior to the meeting we provide you with a central login to Booknet Catalist where we will have posted our pre-selections for the bestseller lists in each category. We will also give you links to the current publisher catalogues on Catalist where you can review the titles and select your picks.

We suggest selecting up to 10 fiction and 10 non-fiction titles to discuss for the adult list, and up to 10 picture books, middle grade novels, and young adult novels for the juvenile, but being book lovers ourselves, we know that sometimes it’s hard to narrow it down. While we may not be able to discuss each title individually, we share our selections on Catalist and form the lists from there. One of the things that we most appreciate about the committee picks is the uniqueness of the selections, and a chance to highlight something we may otherwise have overlooked.

If all this sounds interesting but you’re worried about making a long-term commitment, be assured that we aren’t asking you to sign your life away. A term can last up to three years, but we also appreciate that you are volunteering your time and life/work gets in the way, and you can opt-out at any time. We also appreciate that you may not be able to make every meeting over the course of a term, so you don’t have to worry about losing your spot if you have to miss one or two.

We currently have two openings on the adult and one on the juvenile committees, and positions will be filled on a first come, first serve basis. If all of this sounds up your alley and you’re interested in joining or finding out more, please contact me at rseigel@lsc.on.ca.

Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on Google+ Share on LinkedIn

It’s that time of year again where the holiday movies dominate your TV screens, retail stores play Christmas music on repeat, and colourful lights brighten up the dreary winter weather. It also means that it’s time for holiday themed reads and there are some real gems this year.

 

On the picture book front comes a beautifully illustrated edition of The Nutcracker by one of my personal favourites- Jan Brett. With her trademark illustrations, she sets the story in snowy Russia, and follows the epic adventure of siblings Marie and Fritz who travel into the land of the Sugar Plum Fairy. This is a perfect companion to the National Ballet of Canada version (which also features Marie and Fritz) and a true holiday classic.

 

For emerging readers comes Parks and Rec star Aubrey Plaza’s The Legend of the Christmas Witch. Plaza, who loves to scare kids on Halloween, gives Santa an exiled twin sister in a story that she describes as “merry and bright and a little dark, and a little creepy”. Torn away from her brother as a child, Santa’s sister was raised in the woods by a witch. Now, many years later, she sets out on a dangerous journey to find her brother, and learns lessons about bravery, love, and magic along the way. This non-traditional Christmas tale is sure to appeal to kids and adults alike.

 

If you’ve seen the new Nextflix movie A Boy CalledChristmas, check out the book that inspired the movie by Matt Haig, the bestselling author of the Midnight Library, and numerous other titles. Read alone or read aloud, this is a wholly charming Santa origin story about an 11-year-old Nikolas, nicknamed Christmas by his deceased mother, who sets off on a quest to the North Pole to rescue his father who has gone missing. Along the way he meets a prickly reindeer, a difficult troll, and finds the hidden village of Elfhelm who need his help to save Christmas. I loved the movie, and I love Matt Haig’s works, and like most good Christmas stories, it’s not just for kids. Haig is also the author of The Girl who Saved Christmas, and Father Christmas and Me, which make great companions.

 

If you prefer naughty over nice, I’d be remiss not to highlight the classic Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. The story follows the antics of the Herdman siblings, otherwise known as the worst kids in the world. When they unexpectedly show up at church for the free snacks, they end up taking over the annual Christmas pageant and chaos ensues. The story is laugh aloud funny, a little bit wicked, and a must-read for the holiday season.

 

On the YA front, Christmas usually means Rom-Com, and two of my favourites have also been adapted for Netflix.

 

The first is Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. In this fun romance, 16-year-old Lily has left a notebook full of challenges on the bookstore shelf, hoping that the right guy will find it and accept the dares. Dash, who feels more like Scrooge than Santa, finds the book and takes up Lily’s challenges. What follows is a whirlwind romance in letters as the pair pass the notebook back and forth throughout New York City. When they finally meet in person, the only question is will they live up to their notebook selves, or are they doomed to be a mismatch of epic proportions? The authors also wrote a follow up 12 Days of Dash & Lily, picking up one year after the first book.

 

The other is Let it Snow: Three Holiday Romances by John Green, Lauren Myracle, and Maureen Johnson. A blizzard buries the residents of Gracetown under several feet of snow, creating chaos and romance in these three interconnected romantic holiday tales. The stories are sweet, funny, and swoon-worthy, and the authors all have huge followings, adding to its appeal.

 

 

If Hallmark movies are more your thing, check out The Holiday Switch by Tif Marcello about two clashing teen co-workers who accidentally switch cell phones for the afternoon and learn that they’ve each been hiding something from each other. Throw in an unexpected snowstorm and you have the makings of a fantastic holiday romance.

 

On the adult side, there are a number of holiday themed books from popular writers such as Anne Perry, Susan Mallery, Fern Michaels, and Debbie Macomber, but if you’re looking for something new, try Holly Jolly Diwali by Sonya Lalli. When 29-year-old Niki travels to India for a friend’s wedding, she arrives just in time to celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights. When she meets London musician Sameer, sparks fly, and as they spend time together, Niki gets back in touch with her Indian roots and starts to reconsider what she actually wants out of life.

 

Another great choice for a non-Christmas holiday book is the Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer. This one is right up my alley and I can’t wait for my hold to come available at the library so I can read it. The novel is about a ‘nice” Jewish girl who has secretly been publishing Christmas romance novels for a decade. When her publisher forces her to write a Chanukah romance, she hits a wall. Rachel finds inspiration at a Jewish-themed music festival called “The Matzah Ball”, where she is forced to work with her summer camp arch-nemesis. It’s a fun, out of the box romance, and will appeal to a wide variety of readers.

 

Finally, for readers who love the switching places theme comes the Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox. When I was a kid I was addicted to stories about twins switching places, and I’ve seen the Candace Cameron Hallmark Movie Switched for Christmas a few times. If this describes you, you’ll love this book. It’s about- you guessed it- twins who switch lives 12 days before Christmas as a temporary escape from their lives. But when you throw a calendar-worthy firefighter and a hot physician assistant into the mix, trading lives becomes much more complicated than they bargained for.

 

Those are just the tip of the iceberg for holiday reads, and whether you want laughs, mischief, scares or romance, there’s something for everybody in these selections.

es or romance, there’s something for everybody in these selections.

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram @LibraryServicesCentre, and on Twitter @LSC_since1967. We also encourage you to subscribe to the Weekly Update, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Happy Reading!

 

Rachel

Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on Google+ Share on LinkedIn

When it comes to boys and reading, there are several myths and misunderstandings surrounding their habits. These myths perpetrate the belief that boys, and teen boys especially, don’t read. And if they do, they won’t read fiction.

 

Curious to see whether this is also true of boys who have grown up reading and enjoying novels, I asked my friend whose sons recently turned 11 and 14 if she has noticed a difference in the reading habits of her kids as they’ve gotten older. Her younger son still enjoys reading, and is open to reading a variety of titles. Her teenager, who not so long ago was deep into Harry Potter now says “UGHHH” very loudly when she suggests that he put down his device and read a book.

 

Why don’t boys read novels you may ask? Well, according to Jon Scieszka, popular author and founder of Guysread, one reason that boys stop reading is because they lack a male role model for literacy. Research suggests that while men often come back to reading as they approach retirement age, boys mostly see women reading and therefore do not see it as a male activity.

 

a box set collection of Judy Blume novelsWhen my brother was a kid, he enjoyed the popular “boy” books such as the Fudge books by Judy Blume, How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell, Encyclopedia Brown by Donald Sobol, etc…By the time he was a pre-teen, he was hardly reading at all. And in university, he asked me if I had Coles Notes for the required reading in his English class just to avoid reading the book. My dad is a reader now, but when my brother and I were little, he was building his career, and I doubt if we saw him just sitting down and reading. My mom had the luxury of staying home, and had a lot more time to read for pleasure.

 

The most common assumption is that girls read fiction and boys read non-fiction. For girls, reading is a pleasurable activity, whereas for boys, it’s merely a means to finding out something they want to know. This belief is certainly common in the publishing world, and of the 600 or so unique YA novels published each year, an overwhelming majority seem aimed at girls (statistics on this vary so take this as a baseline). According to a study of all books reviewed by Horn Book Magazine in 2014, the protagonists of middle grade novels were 48% boys, 36% girls, and 16% both, while in YA, 65% were female, 22% male, and 13% both.

 

Economically, this makes sense. Publishing is a business, and the job of a publisher is to produce books that meet the demand of the market. If there is little demand for boy-oriented YA fiction, they aren’t going to spend their limited dollars trying to meet a demand that isn’t there. That also means that the so-called boy books receive little to no marketing dollars, so even though they exist, it’s a lot harder to find them.

 

Now we’ve got a chicken/egg question. Do boys stop reading because of the perception that YA fiction is for girls, or is YA fiction aimed at girls because teen boys don’t read fiction? If you assume that boys won’t read and cater primarily to girls, boys naturally assume that there is nothing for them and focus their attention on other activities.  On the other hand, if you give them something that will engage them, they will be more likely to read.

 

So what will engage a boy? A thrilling story with a lot of action is a big one, and is a lot more important than the gender of the protagonist. Hunger Games is a perfect example of a female-centered book that boys have enjoyed, largely because the story has enough action and excitement to keep male readers engaged, and it doesn’t look like a girl book. I don’t know too many boys who are interested in reading about mean girls and love triangles, and I definitely don’t know many who will willingly pick up a book with a feminine cover. They also like stories about real boys experiencing real things, because boys want characters they can relate to as much as girls do.

 

the delusionist by don calame / a street magician juggling a ball and holding playing cards, against a blue fieldOne author who definitely understands the teenage boy psyche is British Columbian author Don Calame, whose four previous books have been big hits with reluctant readers. When I described the plot of Swim the Fly to my partner, he blanched, and literally asked me “how did he know?” As far as I’m aware they have no direct (or indirect) connection, but he was positive that Calame had somehow heard about his teenage exploits and put them into a novel.

 

His new novel The Delusionist focuses on two best friends, and their individual quests to find the perfect magic trick to get them into a summer magic academy for teens. As the story progresses, they find their friendship tested by a crafty female magician, the pressure of competing against each other, and the desire to be seen as individuals and not one half of a duo. It’s funny, it’s real, and I can think of several boys between 11 and 15 who will enjoy it.

 

the loop by ben oliver / the word loop with each letter a floor plan of a building.If your teens are into action, Ben Oliver’s Loop Trilogy is an exciting, action-packed dystopian horror series that will appeal to fans of Maze Runner. The story focuses on 16-year-old Luca Kane, who is an inmate inside a futuristic death-row prison for teens. When the teens suddenly find themselves left alone in the prison, Luca will have to overcome fellow prisoners who want to kill him, rabid rats in the train tunnels, and an outside population turned into murderous monsters if he wants to survive. Book 2 released last year, and while there’s no official word on book 3 yet, we can hope that it won’t be too long a wait to see how the series ends.

 

These are just a couple of suggestions, but there are many books out there with teen boy appeal. You just have to be willing to find them. 

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter, our YouTube Channel, and now on Issuu. We also encourage you to subscribe to the LSC Weekly Update, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Happy Reading!

Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on Google+ Share on LinkedIn

Everybody loves a good mystery, and from the moment I started reading chapter books, I had mysteries on my shelf. I had tons of collections of mini-mysteries (the ones where the solution was written in backwards writing that you held up to a mirror), and I loved solving puzzles alongside my favourite kid sleuths.

 

Anyone who enjoys reading mysteries can appreciate that sense of satisfaction when you have your ‘AHAH!’ moment and figure everything out, and I think that somehow it’s even more satisfying when you’re a kid. As the popular mystery writer Stuart Gibbs speculates, mysteries appeal because the smartest person (usually the good guys) wins, and they are just ordinary people without super powers or any extraordinary gift except for intellect. I’d also suggest that solving mysteries give kids a sense of power in a world where they often feel helpless and powerless.

 

While some of the books I enjoyed as a kid are now considered non-PC (Enid Blyton I’m looking at you), I’m amazed at how many of the series I followed as a kid are still in print and popular, and am constantly blown away by how rich a genre it is.

 

waiting game cover / an overhead picture of a chess boardI remember my brother and I both enjoying Donald Sobel’s Encyclopedia Brown. I loved Harriet the Spy, Liza, Bill and Jed (a series by Amelia Bedelia author Peggy Parish about sleuthing twins and their younger brother), and of course Ellen Raskin’s Newbery Award-winning novel The Westing Game which is still considered the gold standard of juvenile mysteries today.

 

When you think of famous kidlit detectives, Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys are probably the first to jump to mind. They’ve been popular for nearly a century, and they are among the few children’s book series that I can say both my parents and I read and enjoyed. In fact, my mom still has her collection of Nancy Drew books from when she was a kid, and despite my having outgrown the books years ago and not having kids of my own, she’s been reluctant to let them go.

 

I liked Nancy and read the books faithfully when I was younger, along with Trixie Belden (who I thought was a lot more interesting), but it was another kid detective who stole my heart. I loved and still love Nate the Great. 

 

Nate first appeared in print in 1972. The series was one of the first chapter book series published by Putnam, and despite original author Marjorie Weinman Sharmat’s passing in 2019, they continue to be published today.

 

So who is Nate the Great? If you’ve never read the series, he’s a 9-year-old kid detective (think a mini Sam Spade) who solves "cases" in his neighbourhood along with his dog sludge. Nate wears his trademark trench coat and Sherlock Holmes-style hat, and loves (and I mean LOVES) pancakes which he accepts as payment for solving the mysteries.

 

Along with Nate, the books also introduce an interesting cast of supporting characters. There’s Annie, an African-American girl who is one of Nate’s best friends and her dog Fang, Rosamond, a very goth-looking girl who is always described as “strange," (remember this is a 9-year-old boy POV) owns four cats, and is crushing on Nate, the wise Esmerelda, and his sometimes adversaries Finley and Pip. I always had a soft spot for Rosamond, but they’re all interesting and likeable characters.

 

So what is it about Nate that has allowed him to endure for almost 50 years? Firstly, the humour. They are genuinely clever and witty stories, and at the time, books like these were something pretty rare for the age group. I remember most of the books I read as a child, and I can’t think of anything else that was comparable to these when I was 6 or 7 and moving away from picture books and readers.  While the category has greatly expanded since then, these are still stand out for me.

 

I also loved Nate’s autonomy. It seems like all he ever had to do was leave a note for his mother telling her that he was on a case, and that was perfectly fine. In Nate the Great Goes Undercover, Nate goes on an overnight stakeout to figure out who or what is going through his neighbour Oliver’s trashcan. In fact, Nate was so dedicated to solving the case that he even crawled inside the trash can. You really have to appreciate Nate’s dedication. He’ll work a case until he solves it, only briefly stopping for pancakes to help him keep up his strength.

 

Another of Nate’s characteristics that kids find so appealing is his blunt, deadpan delivery. In the first sentence of the first book, Nate introduces himself with the line““My name is Nate the Great. I am a detective. I work alone.” He may not intend to be funny, but he truly is, and adults will appreciate the tone as much as kids do.

 

nate the great cover / three students in a hallway following the trail of a muddy robot

The humour is especially prevalent in Nate the Great and the Mushy Valentine where Nate has to figure out who left his dog a secret valentine. This is a problem because Nate really hates mushy stuff, and he makes it quite clear that he does not want to be anybody’s valentine. Thinking that Rosamond gave him a valentine, he decides to hang out in the dog house with Sludge until the valentine blows away  just to avoid having to claim it.

 

In Spring 2021, Nate returned with an all new adventure where he solves the case of the missing Earth Day robot, and it was just as funny and smart as the previous titles.

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter, our YouTube Channel, and now on Issuu. We also encourage you to subscribe to the LSC Weekly Update, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Happy Reading!

Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on Google+ Share on LinkedIn

A TV adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire was never a sure thing. While Martin stated in an interview that thanks to his television experience he could envision the lighting and blocking in his head when he was writing a scene, adapting a fantasy franchise to film or television can be risky, and while he’d received some expressions of interest from producers, nobody seemed quite sure of what they wanted to do with it. That is until novelists/screenwriters David Benioff and DB Weiss approached Martin and correctly answered a challenging trivia question from the book. Even then, there were still no guarantees that it would ever see a screen.

 

game of thrones by george rr martin / the hilt of a sword against a blue fieldHBO, the network that eventually aired the adaptation wasn’t sure if a fantasy series would fit with their typical fair of prestige drama, and although the books had a following, they weren’t sure if anybody would watch it. The Peter Jackson film adaptations of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings  proved that it could work as films, but would the same principle work on television?

 

Fast forward 10 years later, to 2011. By then HBO had signed on, and the pilot had been shot and re-shot, and something else occurred that led HBO to believe that they had made the right choice - the passion of Martin’s online fandom. Fans of the series loved to talk about every little detail of the books in online forums, and the network was smart enough to market the show directly to those fans in their space.

 

One year later, Vulture Magazine declared the series fan base one of the most devoted fan bases of all time, and by 2013, the books and the show could boast 5.5 million registered fans on social media from all around the world. The show ran for 8 seasons, and while there have been other adaptations of popular fantasy series, such as Outlander and The Witcher, no other epic fantasy series has been able to match the success or popularity that GoT experienced. Even HBO has faulted in trying to repeat their success, having announced multiple Game of Thrones spin-offs only to most of them fall apart before production. 

 

Amazon Prime is hoping to catch lightning in their streaming bottle again, not once but twice. In 2017, they bought the rights to the remainder to the Tolkien estate, and commissioned what was then called a Lord of the Rings TV series. It is now know that the series will be set in the Second Age of Middle Earth, before the One Ring was forged, before wizards roamed the wilds, and when Hobbits were just starting to peak out of their hills. Peter Jackson is not involved. Written by J. D. Payne and Patrick McKay, whose credits include Star Trek Beyond, Godzilla vs King Kong, and Jungle Cruise, Amazon will be bringing the New Zealand-shot, billion dollar series to the platform in September of 2022. 

 

eye of the world by robert jordan / a cloaked figure stands between two pillars, before a sunrise, with a large stone clock floating above themMiddle Earth though is well known to audiences. Less well known to the general population is Amazon Prime's next venture: a highly anticipated forthcoming adaptation of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. If you aren’t familiar with it, Wheel of Time is a high fantasy series that spans 14 books, plus a prequel and a couple of companion novels. The first book was published in January 1990, and the final three books were completed by fantasy author Brandon Sanderson after Jordan’s death in 2007. Luckily, the author had enough time to prepare detailed notes about how he wanted it finished, and there ended up being enough material for 3 more books instead of one.

 

Unlike Game of Thrones which draws inspiration from European history and politics, Wheel of Time was inspired more by European and Asian mythology - a "wheel of time" as a concept is present in Hinduism, Sikhism, and Buddhism. The books have sold more than 90 million copies worldwide, making it one of the most popular fantasy series of all time. Since each paperback averages 800+ pages and is far too complex to explain in any detail, I’ll try giving you the Coles Notes version of the series.

 

The core premise is that the story has happened over and over again. The wheel of time turns, ages pass, memories become legend, and legend becomes myth, and eventually the myth is forgotten when a new age dawns. An easter egg in both the books and TV show of Game of Thrones referenced an Archmaester who believed that history is a wheel, Martin's friendly tribute to his friend and fellow writer. Martin also included in his genealogies a "Trebor Jordayne, Lord of Tor", referencing both the author and his publisher, Tor Books. 

 

Like so much fantasy, the series is incredibly lore-dense. Much like Game of Thrones, the world is not officially named in the books, but fans like to call it Randland after the hero of the series, Rand al'Thor. There are though 14 nations in this world, so it’s good to have a map handy to keep track. In total, the books actually contain 100,000 characters, and fans recommend using the glossary at the back to keep track of who everybody is.

 

wheel of time companion by robert jordan and harriet mcdougal / three interlinked circled, two of gold and one of stone, against a black field

Because of the repetition inherent to the series, there are a lot of prophecies in this series, the most important of which are the "Prophecies of the Dragon".  The Dragon Reborn will be the champion of the Light in the battle against the Dark One - isn't that always the way? - and Rand al’Thor is prophesied to be that guy. Much like the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind, Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, and most "Chosen One" narratives, Rand has grown up as a shepherd in a village and has very little knowledge about his destiny.

 

The first season of the TV show will reportedly air 8 episodes, but whether the entire season focuses on one book or a few books hasn’t been confirmed. As we all know, adapting fantasy, especially one that’s as intricate and complex as this one is a challenge, and it would be unreasonable to expect that it will be word-for-word faithful to the source material.

 

Regardless of which plot elements and characters make it into the TV show, one thing that is guaranteed is that Wheel of Time will be visually stunning, full of action, magic, and contains strong male and female characters. Whether or not it will reach the levels of popularity that Game of Thrones did remains to be seen, but judging by the advance buzz, it certainly has a chance. It premieres on November 22nd, 2021.

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter, our YouTube Channel, and now on Issuu. We also encourage you to subscribe to the LSC Weekly Update, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Happy Reading!

Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on Google+ Share on LinkedIn

When I was a kid, I loved Choose Your Own Adventure books. I loved being able to shape my story with my choices, and I confess to cheating a little by flipping ahead to see if the choice I made would result in my death or the end of the story.

 

As an adult, I realize how much life is like a Choose Your Own Adventure. There are multiple points in life where we are faced with an uncertain or difficult choice. Perhaps one of those choices leads you to the exciting life you always dreamt of. Another choice leaves you alone and sad. Which choice will give you your happy ending? Unlike books, you can’t hold the page while you flip ahead and see which choice is better, so you go with what you think is the best choice at the time and hope for the best. But what if you could “flash forward” so to speak? Would making different choices drastically change the future, or is the future fixed?

 

This is the question that Oona, the titular character in the novel Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore grapples with. When readers meet Oona,  it’s 1982, she’s celebrating New Year’s Eve and her birthday (at midnight, she’ll turn 19) with her boyfriend and friends. Oona is also faced with a choice. Put off University and go on tour with her band or stay behind in London and finish school.

 

When the clock strikes midnight, something strange happens. Oona passes out and wakes up as her 50 something self. Luckily, her confidant Kenzie (who she hasn’t met yet at 18) and her mom know exactly what’s going on and are there to help her navigate this strange new reality. Equally fortunate is that her future self was considerate enough to write her a note of explanation giving her just enough information about her life to catch her up.

 

As the title suggests, Oona is somehow living her life out of order. Every year at midnight she leaps into her life at a different point in time and lives that life for exactly one year before leaping again. The catch is that  not only does Oona have no idea what year she’ll leap into next, but for the most part, it’s out of sequence. She also doesn’t know if she’ll ever get back to her own time and have the chance to live her life properly. She has to rely on the previous year’s Oona leaving her a catch-up letter, and some years are more helpful than others.

 

In this life, Oona is alone, and not a rock star, but thanks to some careful financial decisions informed by information about stocks and sports scores that she picked up in the future, she’s extremely wealthy. Ignoring the warning issued by early Oona not to spend too much time investigating the past, she promptly asks Kenzie to help her look up all of her friends on the Internet and figure out what happened to each of them and why they are no longer in her life.

 

Each chapter chronicles one year in Oona’s life, and readers follow along as she lives multiple lives, and experiences moments of pain and joy as she tries to hold onto human connections even knowing that she’ll be gone from that life in a year.

 

After one particularly painful year of disappointment and heartbreak, Oona wakes up to find herself exactly one year earlier, and in the year that caused her so much pain the previous (next) year. Like most people probably would in her circumstances, she wonders if she can change her future and spare her future self. Despite her efforts to make completely different choices and shake things up, she’s unable to change things, leading her to wonder if the future is fixed.

 

This is an interesting question, and one I’m still pondering. Most time travel stories adopt the theory that by changing the past we can change the future. Life is full of significant moments we would love to change if we could. What if instead of turning to page 23 in our Choose Your Own Adventure story we turn to page 55? Sometimes it takes your story in a different direction, but sometimes, all the choices end up leading to the same place.

 

Oona doesn’t try to change any history but her own and so we’ll never know if she could have significantly changed the course of the world, but still, her experiences suggest that our destiny is pre-written and while we may take different paths to get there, all roads lead to the same place.

 

While Oona is never able to make any significant changes to how her life turns out, she does learn to live in the now, and not to keep her finger on the page while she tries to figure out if making a different choice would change the outcome of her future.

 

If you’re looking for a fun and thoughtful read for your next book club, don’t keep your finger on the page while you try to figure out what choice is best. Just pick this one up and enjoy the ride, and I hope you’ll get as much out of it as I did.

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter, our YouTube Channel, and now on Issuu. We also encourage you to subscribe to the LSC Weekly Update, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Happy Reading!

 

Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on Google+ Share on LinkedIn

60 years ago, the recently deceased Norton Juster published the children’s fantasy novel The Phantom Tollbooth, probably never imagining that it would still be popular 60 years later, or that it would become a children’s classic. 

 

I first met Milo and company when I was 9-years-old and in 4th grade. My teacher was a big believer in reading novels aloud, and she started reading us Juster’s book. I’ve always loved reading, but of all the books I’ve ever read or had read to me, this one is not only my favourite children’s book, but my favourite book of all time, and one which I’ve revisited several times as an adult.

 

phantom tollbooth cover / a drawing of milo and a dog creature with a clock imbedded in its side, on a blue fieldIf you’re not familiar with the story, it begins with a bored little boy named Milo, who despite having a room full of toys and games, is bored. Sounds like a familiar scenario right? One day, a mysterious package arrives in his room. He has no idea where it came from or who sent it, but he decides to open it. Inside the package is a tollbooth and a map of the Lands Beyond, including the Kingdom of Wisdom. Lacking anything else to do, he decides to try it out.

 

After going through the tollbooth, Milo finds himself on a road that is decidedly not his apartment, and this is where his adventure begins. As he travels through Wisdom, Milo learns the history of the kingdom, and is set on an important quest. You see, once upon a time, the Kingdom was ruled by two brothers. One was a word wizard, the other a math magician. They also had two sisters named Rhyme and Reason who kept balance in the kingdom.

 

Let’s just say that the brothers had some issues sharing power, each thinking that they were the more important. In an attempt to settle their quarrel once and for all, they called upon their sisters to tell them whether numbers or letters were the more important. The sisters ruled that both were equally important, enraging the brothers who banished them to the Castle in the Air, and split the kingdom in two- Dictionopolis and Digitopolis.

 

Now if it were up to Milo, who seldom stayed interested in anything for long, he’d probably have just gone home and abandoned the Tollbooth to a corner with his other toys. Instead, however, King Azas the Unabridged (can you guess which kingdom he rules over?) tricks Milo into accepting a quest to rescue the princesses and restore rhyme and reason to the kingdom (literally and figuratively).

 

Throughout his journey, Milo travels to the land of Expectations which is literally whatever you expect it to be, gets stuck in the Doldrums which is about as dull and drab as you’d imagine, visits a word market where words and letters are sold, and attends a banquet where guests literally eat their words.

 

He also meets a number of colourful characters such as the Whether Man who tells him whether there will be whether instead of what the weather will be, the Which Witch known as Faintly Macabre, a spelling bee, and the "watch" dog named Tock (who actually goes tick) whose job it is to keep people from killing time, and a 12-sided creature called Dodecahedron to name a few.

 

Once his quest is complete, Milo is returned home. He immediately makes plans to return the next day after school, but discovers that the Tollbooth is a lot like Mary Poppins, and only goes where it’s needed. While he’s mildly disappointed by this, he also looks at his own world with fresh eyes and realizes that he has lots to do right there.

 

As a kid, I loved the adventure, the fantasy world, and the strange characters. By that point I was well into books by Roald Dahl and C.S. Lewis, and I’d gone down the Rabbit hole and into Oz, but this was something entirely different. I’m not sure if I fully understood the deeper messages of the book when I was 9, but the subtlety, along with the word play, is what makes it brilliant.

 

We can all relate to Milo, and kids aren’t the only ones who have looked around at all of their stuff and still complained of having nothing to do. Milo also learns that memorization (which he associates with education) is not the same as learning, and that law isn’t the same as justice. He learns to think in the abstract, the danger of jumping to conclusions, not to accept conformity, and to appreciate the journey and not focus solely on getting to where he’s trying to go.

 

Perhaps the most important takeaway from the book comes when Milo learns that the quest was supposed to be impossible. He was able to succeed because he believed in what was possible and not what wasn’t, and that’s something we can all do well to remember. 

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter, our YouTube Channel, and now on Issuu. We also encourage you to subscribe to the LSC Weekly Update, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Happy Reading!

Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on Google+ Share on LinkedIn

I love speculative novels that pose interesting questions that apply to real life, and particularly ones that have no easy answers.  Is it worth sacrificing your identity if it also meant erasing your most painful memories? If you knew you had a day left to live, how would you spend it? These questions are the central ideas of the novels by the brilliant YA writer Adam Silvera.

 

More happy than not cover / the title in large blue block letters, imposed over a close up of a yellow smiley faceSeveral years ago I had the privilege of getting to know Adam when we both contributed to the same blog. Adam was on the cusp of publishing his first novel More Happy Than Not (which recently published a 5th anniversary edition). Since then, Adam has published several more books, and in all of them he tackles the heavy questions of love, loss, identity, and how we live. 

 

Comped to the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, More Happy Than Not follows 15-year-old Aaron Soto who is struggling with grief over his father’s suicide, and issues of identity, love, and self-acceptance. Adam is lucky in that he has a supportive mother and girlfriend, but his mom works two jobs and can’t be around all of the time, and while his girlfriend tries, he just can’t seem to make himself happy.

 

When his girlfriend goes away to art camp for a couple of weeks, he starts hanging out with new kid Thomas. When he’s with Thomas, he feels happy and safe, but Thomas’ constant presence is creating tension within his group of friends and his girlfriend, and the deeper his feelings grow, the more terrified he becomes.

 

Desperate to do something, he considers undergoing a controversial memory alteration procedure that claims to erase painful memories. If it works, maybe it can erase his grief, and help him get over being gay. But what if it also ends up erasing him?

 

It’s a wonderful work of speculative fiction, and it begs the question how far would you go to erase painful memories? Are our identities shaped by our memories, and in erasing those memories, we do effectively erase what makes us ourselves. Is that cost worth it to give us the happy ending we so desperately want, or is life, as Aaron concludes, “more happy than not?”

 

Ithey both die at the end cover / who figures in sahdown walking along a railing while behind them, a city scape is haloed by a full moonn his third novel They Both Die At the End , Silvera gives his readers another philosophical question to ponder: How would you spend your last day?

 

The novel focuses on two teenaged boys named Mateo and Rufus, who thanks to the company Death-Cast’s predictive technology, learn they have one day left to live. The tech isn’t so far advanced as to give them an exact time or cause of death, and there’s always the niggly question of whether death can be cheated.

 

Initially, the conservative Mateo planned to spend the day in his apartment, but on a whim decides to spend his last day actually living. He meets Rufus through the Last Friend App- an app designed to give Deckers (the dying) someone to hang out with on their last day. They decide to go full on Carpe Diem, and as the day progresses, their friendship turns into something deeper.

 

As I was reading, I found myself imagining what I would do in their shoes. Would I try to see all of my family and friends and say goodbye? Would I try some of the things I always wanted to do but was too afraid to, or would I play it safe and stay in bed reading or watching tv hoping to cheat fate?

 

What I found particularly interesting about the scenario is how knowing your death date can shape your choices. Throughout the day, Mateo and Rufus have numerous close calls where they think “this is the moment. This is how I die,” but being in that place at that time is 100% driven by the choices they made as a result of knowing that they will die before the day is up. If it was a day like any other, there are probably 100 choices that you might make that doesn’t put you in harm’s way, or maybe knowing doesn’t matter because fate is fixed and you were destined to die. The paperback edition is currently on the NYT besteller list, so now's a good time to add it to your collection if you don't already have it. 

 

The second book in Silvera's new Infinity Cycle fantasy series, called Infinity Reaper, released this past March, and both of those titles are definitely worth adding to your YA collection.

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter, our YouTube Channel, and now on Issuu. We also encourage you to subscribe to the LSC Weekly Update, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Happy Readings!

Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on Google+ Share on LinkedIn

Contributors

Rachel Seigel
34
January 17, 2022
show Rachel's posts
LSC Library Services Centre
43
December 20, 2021
show LSC's posts
Lisa Hennessy
1
October 25, 2021
show Lisa's posts
Selection Services
3
October 18, 2021
show Selection's posts
Jamie Quinn
3
September 13, 2021
show Jamie's posts
Karrie Vinters
9
June 14, 2021
show Karrie's posts
Stef Waring
14
May 17, 2021
show Stef's posts
Sara Pooley
6
April 19, 2021
show Sara's posts

Latest Posts

Show All Recent Posts

Archive

Tags

Everything Adult Fiction Adult Non Fiction Children’s Fiction Children’s Non Fiction Graphic Novels AV Multilingual Services Announcements Holidays Social Media Events