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Tag: 31 days of the next big thing

Reasons Not to Look for the Next Big Thing

by flickr user thewhelming
YALSA’s upcoming YA Literature Symposium will explore the future of young adult literature. The symposium begins on November 2nd, but we wanted to get a head start here at The Hub, so we’re devoting October to 31 Days of the Next Big Thing. Each day of the month, we’ll bring you forecasts about where YA literature is headed and thoughts on how you can spot trends and predict the future yourself.

Today we come to the end of our month-long look at the Next Big Thing. We’ve looked at the Next Big Thing in horror, romance, historical fiction, manga, science fiction, and more. And now I’ve come to throw water on the whole project.

I give you five (possibly contradictory) reasons we shouldn’t be looking for the Next Big Thing:

The Meme Dream Machine

YALSA’s upcoming YA Literature Symposium will explore the future of young adult literature. The symposium begins on November 2nd, but we wanted to get a head start here at The Hub, so we’re devoting October to 31 Days of the Next Big Thing. Each day of the month, we’ll bring you forecasts about where YA literature is headed and thoughts on how you can spot trends and predict the future yourself.

Who was the first weather person to call snow “the white stuff?” When did the phrase “I know, right?” become the nearly universal signifier of assent? Why haven’t I received my check from a Nigerian prince? Why cat videos?

What these items have in common is that they are all potentially memes. What does that mean? As defined by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, a meme is “a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation.” Using the vocabulary of genetics, Dawkins compared memes to genes because the meme’s function is to replicate and survive through generations. The “fittest” will survive and the weakest are weeded out the same way that adaptations that improve a species survival will be passed on to offspring.

In many ways a meme is like a virus or a parasite. They rely on a vector for transmission (a sneeze or blood if you’re thinking of a virus; a cat video or spam for a meme). They infect a host when you either breathe in the microscopic snot of the sneezer or sit in front of your computer watching the Invisible Children fundraising video. Congratulations! You are now infected. Feel free to sneeze on others or forward the video to me (don’t do that, I beg you). Thus, the cycle begins anew.

The Next Big Thing in E-Books

YALSA’s upcoming YA Literature Symposium will explore the future of young adult literature. The symposium begins on November 2nd, but we wanted to get a head start here at The Hub, so we’re devoting October to 31 Days of the Next Big Thing. Each day of the month, we’ll bring you forecasts about where YA literature is headed and thoughts on how you can spot trends and predict the future yourself.

The Shadow CatsE-books are not the Next Big Thing. They spent several years as the Next Big Thing, but now that e-reading is possible on cellphones and tablets as well as computers and e-readers, they are officially a Very Big Thing and have been for awhile. What’s still just beginning to be explored, though, are the possibilities that e-publishing holds for enhancing the reading experience.

Some writers and publishers are exploring interactive creations, such as hidden clues and puzzles for readers to find on-line, game tie-ins, interactive maps and more; there’s even a term, “transmedia,” for this kind of experience which connects reading with other activities.

However, there’s another Next Big Thing spawned by e-reading — it’s less technologically intensive than transmedia, but still has the potential to change how we read.

31 Days of the Next Big Thing: More Science Fiction for Teens? Make it So!

YALSA’s upcoming YA Literature Symposium will explore the future of young adult literature. The symposium begins on November 2nd, but we wanted to get a head start here at The Hub, so we’re devoting October to 31 Days of the Next Big Thing. Each day of the month, we’ll bring you forecasts about where YA literature is headed and thoughts on how you can spot trends and predict the future yourself.

Back in May The Hub tackled upcoming trends and I mentioned that “straight-up, non-dystopian, space-ships-and-aliens science fiction for teens” was a trend I saw coming, though I also noted that it was possibly wishful thinking. Being a card-carrying, president-of-the-science-fiction-and-fantasy-club-in-high-school SF fan, I’ve complained a lot in the recent past about the dearth of good YA science fiction, and while I’ve enjoyed a lot of the recent dystopian and post-apocalyptic titles, what I was really craving were the kind of books I read growing up, only new. And for teens. I’m thinking of authors like Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, William Sleator, John Christopher, Frank Herbert, Anne McCaffrey, and Andre Norton or books like A Wrinkle in Time, Ender’s Game, The Martian Chronicles, Lord of Light, Earthseed, and so many others.

Six months and a dozen new SF titles later I think this is an honest to goodness trend, and I couldn’t be happier. 

Adult Nonfiction Books Repackaged for Teens

YALSA’s upcoming YA Literature Symposium will explore the future of young adult literature. The symposium begins on November 2nd, but we wanted to get a head start here at The Hub, so we’re devoting October to 31 Days of the Next Big Thing. Each day of the month, we’ll bring you forecasts about where YA literature is headed and thoughts on how you can spot trends and predict the future yourself.

I’ve noticed a big increase in nonfiction adult books being adapted for teen readers. I wonder if publishers think repurposing adult books for younger readers is like film producers who think if a film does well the first time, it should be remade. That doesn’t always work, but I think that adapting popular nonfiction adult titles for teens can be a great way to attract them to books they might not otherwise pick up. The pared down versions retain all of the pertinent information that the adult versions do without lots of extraneous detail. The adult titles selected to be adapted for younger readers encompass a wide range of topics from murdered presidents, to the dangers of global warming and fast food, to inspiring stories of individuals overcoming tremendous odds.

I first noticed this trend with Chew On This: Everything You Don’t Want to Know About Fast Food by Charles Wilson and Eric Schlosser (2006), the adaption of Schlosser’s 2001 adult book Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. Both the adult book and the shorter teen version are persuasive exposes of the far-reaching negative effects of the fast-food industry.

The Next Big Thing In Manga

YALSA’s upcoming YA Literature Symposium will explore the future of young adult literature. The symposium begins on November 2nd, but we wanted to get a head start here at The Hub, so we’re devoting October to 31 Days of the Next Big Thing. Each day of the month, we’ll bring you forecasts about where YA literature is headed and thoughts on how you can spot trends and predict the future yourself.

I’m a HUGE fan of manga and graphic novels. I picked up my very first manga about 3 years ago — the first volume of Fruits Basket — and I was instantly hooked. Within weeks of reading Fruits Basket I visited my local book store to purchase armfuls of manga (because there weren’t any available at my local libraries); I subscribed to both Shonen Jump and Shojo Beat magazines; I started watching anime companions to my favorite series; and I began the search for online forums that would keep me “in the know” about all things related to manga (two favorites still remain animenewsnetwork.com and mangablog.net). And I happily devoured my manga, delighting in every new series I discovered — especially enjoying those moments when I could open someone else’s eyes to the format. Then, things started to change in the publishing world…

Otaku USA Magazine

Even as libraries started to build momentum in adding some “core” manga to their collections (Fruits Basket, Naruto, Death Note, and so on), major publishing firms responsible for English translated versions of many popular series started to close up shop (e.g., Tokyopop) … which meant that I was left hanging on many series I was very much addicted to reading. (The series were ongoing in Japan, but the English translations had ceased to exist.) And following the trend of many printed magazines, Shojo Beat and others stopped doing print runs of their publications. I know I have seen many listserv discussions of people asking where they can find magazines about manga and anime (with pretty much Otaku USA being the only major magazine still available in print form). So where does that leave fans like myself, who want to support the mangaka who create the works I love (and avoid visiting fan-driven and not-quite-legal scanlation sites online)? It may seem grim, but all is not lost.

The Next Big Thing in Romance

YALSA’s upcoming YA Literature Symposium will explore the future of young adult literature. The symposium begins on November 2nd, but we wanted to get a head start here at The Hub, so we’re devoting October to 31 Days of the Next Big Thing. Each day of the month, we’ll bring you forecasts about where YA literature is headed and thoughts on how you can spot trends and predict the future yourself.

I love teen romance novels. They’re so emotional with their first love, their first kiss, their first time, and their first heartbreak. I’ve been hoping that there will be a surge in the contemporary romance book. I have teen girls asking all the time for books similar to Sarah Dessen’s. I pass along several of my favorite authors including Meg Cabot, Jennifer Echols, Jen Calonita, Abby McDonald, Rachel Hawthorne, Catherine Clark, Susane Colasanti, and Stephanie Perkins. Often, they come back looking for more.

Here are a few upcoming contemporaries that I can’t wait to read.

31 Days of the Next Big Thing: Adventure Time!

YALSA’s upcoming YA Literature Symposium will explore the future of young adult literature. The symposium begins on November 2nd, but we wanted to get a head start here at The Hub, so we’re devoting October to 31 Days of the Next Big Thing. Each day of the month, we’ll bring you forecasts about where YA literature is headed and thoughts on how you can spot trends and predict the future yourself.

“Adventure” is one of those genre labels that, for me at least, gets murkier and less precise the longer I think about it. I start out excited to write about stories of exotic locales, heart-pounding action, and danger, danger, danger, and end up wondering if half of all contemporary YA fiction couldn’t be classified as “adventure.” I mean, look at the definition of “adventure fiction” provided by the WorldCat Genre guide: “works characterized by an emphasis on physical and often violent action, exotic locales, and danger, generally with little character development.” It’s kind of vague and I’m not sure I actually agree with it anyway.

The 2006 edition of Diana Tixier Herald’s Genreflecting posits that “the pure adventure, a story involving a hero (or heroine) taking risks and overcoming dangers to complete a journey or task, is a form on its own — and in fact, it is probably the oldest recorded genre in existence.” That sounds more like it, but applies to an awful lot of fiction and indeed, a quick Google search reveals an assortment of related or similar labels, things like Action-Adventure, Survival, Fantasy Adventure, and the like. If any story where action is at the fore and where the main character faces danger in the pursuit of a goal is considered “Adventure,” I have to wonder where one genre ends and another begins. Or if it even matters.

We’ve Already Covered This: New Trends In YA Cover Design

YALSA’s upcoming YA Literature Symposium will explore the future of young adult literature. The symposium begins on November 2nd, but we wanted to get a head start here at The Hub, so we’re devoting October to 31 Days of the Next Big Thing. Each day of the month, we’ll bring you forecasts about where YA literature is headed and thoughts on how you can spot trends and predict the future yourself.

Whether you’re looking forward or back, this is a great time for young adult literature. Not only is there a quantity of quality literature out there to pick from, there is also an interesting study in book design. Some young adult book covers become instantly iconic, while other stories that stand the test of time go through many cover trends and represent a survey of publishing style. Here are a few things I’ve noticed lately when stepping back and looking at the shelves:

The Next Big Thing in Horror

YALSA’s upcoming YA Literature Symposium will explore the future of young adult literature. The symposium begins on November 2nd, but we wanted to get a head start here at The Hub, so we’re devoting October to 31 Days of the Next Big Thing. Each day of the month, we’ll bring you forecasts about where YA literature is headed and thoughts on how you can spot trends and predict the future yourself.

October is the perfect time of year for creepy, stay-up-late, you-really-shouldn’t-read-this-before-bedtime kind of books. That’s right: horror!

I’m about to date myself, but here goes: horror was BIG in YA fiction when I was a teen in the 1990s. Despite the fact that I couldn’t stomach scary movies, I remember being absolutely hooked on Lois Duncan and Christopher Pike books as a 13-year-old. I couldn’t get enough of being scared! Lessons learned: astral projection is dangerous because your evil twin could steal your body while you’re away from it. Also, don’t even think about participating in chain letters. Just … don’t.

Alas, for a time from the 1990s to early 2000s, horror seemed to take a backseat to other genres in YA. Whither the serial killers? Sure, there were vampires … but they were sparkly and alluring instead of terrifying. Cirque du Freak author Darren Shan did his part to keep YA horror afloat with his Demonata series (published between 2005 and 2009), but there simply wasn’t a very wide selection of titles for the teen horror fan.

But have no fear — or rather, have plenty of fear: YA horror seems to be on the rise these days. Perhaps it’s a natural progression after the rise in paranormal romance in the mid-2000s and the current trend of often-disturbing dystopian settings. Clearly today’s YA readers enjoy a little darkness in their literature — why not take it a step further into full-fledged horror?