Because forming my own opinions is hard

On Tuesday I’m going into the city to speak at this New Voices panel in front of a group of Scholastic employees and executives about Generation Z and the future of publishing. Generation Z, for those who don’t know, is the generation born roughly between the mid-nineties and right now. It’s going to be an interesting crowd to watch, I’m told, because they’re going to be the first true children of the Internet age – technologically literate, socially conscious, and globally connected. They’re also the final generation before we officially run out of letters, and their children will probably have either serial numbers or Greek letters. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Here’s the dilemma I’m facing right now: I’m on the panel in my capacity as a political writer, both of fiction and non-fiction, to talk about the future of publishing to cater to the aforementioned socially conscious, globally connected kids. And, in that capacity, I feel like just a little bit of a fraud. Who am I to prognosticate about anything? I’m not really an expert in anything particular, least of all publishing. I know what I, personally, would like to read more of – and like any writer, that’s what I try to write – but any resemblance or relation my work may have to some sort of larger publishing zeitgeist is completely coincidental. Mostly I’m just writing for myself.

But then I remembered I have a blog. It’s not a blog that a lot of people read, but some of those readers are people who are smart about writing and smart about publishing. And while I more or less have an idea of some of the things I’d like to say, I’d love to hear input from you guys. If you were a child of the digital age, what would you want to read?


3 Responses

  1. I think that the best books have always been, at their cores, about helping us to empathize with and love each other.

    I think the next generation will want that closer to the surface. They want to be experts in loving each other.

    Or I hope so.

  2. I’m nearing the end of my internship at Hachette Book Group, and after having first-hand experiences in publishing and marketing and what sells and what doesn’t, I feel like I should have a good idea about what you’re asking, but I don’t really know if I do.

    I feel like the changes that will happen in the future of publishing will not necessarily relate so much to the content of the books, but to the medium in which they’re read, and how they’re marketed. Obviously, digital book readers like the Kindle or the Sony Reader are kind of an up-and-coming thing, but the technology just isn’t good enough right now for it to really catch on. I think that the tipping point will probably come after someone develops a good digital reader for the education market (which would eliminate the burden of 23478 heavy textbooks).

    That probably isn’t really what you’re looking for, though. But I think an interesting example of what could become more popular in the future is a young adult book that we’re publishing called Ghostgirl, which will come out this month. The author began the concept of the character on a website (, where she wrote mini stories about her that eventually developed a pretty large fan base. So the book was written after all of that, and though we don’t know exactly how successful it’ll be because it hasn’t come out yet, the built-in fan base will obviously contribute to its potential success.

    So basically, I think that finding authors from blogs that already have readers could be a potentially new way of interesting the Gen Z kids.

    In terms of content, though, I think things like Harry Potter and the Twilight Saga are popular because the characters/situations are very relatable to real kids, but the stories put them in a fantasy world that’s believable, in a way, because it’s adjacent to ours. (We publish the Twilight series, and the fourth book is coming out tonight. It’s kind of ridiculous how big of a deal it is.) I think that people are interested in these types of books that have real, fairly unremarkable characters that are put into cool, fantastical situations. Young adult books are also becoming more sophisticated in the sense that a lot of them deal with darker themes than in the past, which could also be a continuing trend. Teens don’t want to feel like they’re reading “teen” books.

    ….anyway. I don’t know if this long blathering is helpful at all, but I hope so.

  3. Er, this is Nicole He, by the way.

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