With the release of my novel just two months away, I have suddenly become very interested in how today’s young adults select books to read. When I was younger, I spent many hours in the local public library. Every week I checked out a sizable stack of novels, from early elementary school through high school. It wasn’t until I was out of college and working at a bookstore that I discovered the joy of buying my own books (and I got a 30% discount, too!). But that was the Dark Ages.
To learn more about the reading habits of today’s youth, I started with my own personal focus group: my class of sixth graders. At twelve years old, they are on the younger end of my novel’s target audience, but they are avid readers. First I asked if they selected books themselves or if they read books recommended by parents, teachers, or librarians. While most admitted they had on occasion accepted a recommendation, the vast majority of books they read were self-selected. Standard reasons books were selected didn’t surprise me: the cover illustration and blurb, the author, next book in a series, and genre were all reasons given.
Moving into the twenty-first century, I asked how many used an online source to find books. Many of them have e-readers and have browsed books on Amazon. A handful are members of Goodreads. None of them knew what a blog tour was, yet that seems to be the hottest new way to promote a book (from an author’s point of view). Very few visited book review websites, other than mine, to get ideas for books to read.
So the big question is what about older youth? Do middle school and high school students visit blogs more often? For authors, blog tours are the next hot thing. What about for readers? Chime in if you have a favorite book review site, or if you’ve followed a blog tour hoping for free giveaways.