Trends in publishing come and go. But some trends were worth keeping! Here are six that should return.
Placing the Series Numbers on Book Spines
Once upon a time, each book in a series was marked clearly with a number on the spine. Readers never had to guess whether a book was part of a series, or, if it was, whether it was book one, book two, maybe book 1.5. Now, if a reader wants to know which installment they are picking up, they probably have to look it up online. But what if the reader is not aware the book is part of a series in the first place? Not numbering books makes it confusing for everyone.
Giving Series an Overall Name
Books in a series used to have an overall name. For example, Tamora Pierce’s four Alanna books are part of the Song of the Lioness series. Now, however, most series do not seem to have a specific name and readers seem to just refer to series with a character name or a name referencing the first book title. For example, today the Song of the Lioness books would probably be referred to as Alanna #1, Alanna #2, and so on. But where’s the fun in that?
I don’t have any data on this, but it seems that most books today simply number the chapters. But it’s so much more interesting when the chapters have actual titles! Authors can get really creative with this. One of my favorite examples of chapter titles occurs in L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, where the first three chapters are, in order, “Mrs. Rachel Lynde Is Surprised,” “Matthew Cuthbert Is Surprised,” and “Marilla Cuthbert Is Surprised.” Readers miss out on humor like this when chapters are only numbered.
Publishing Shorter YA Novels
I enjoy a long book as much as the next reader, but must every YA book published now be 400+ pages? Sometimes cutting out material can really improve the narrative structure of a story, and I think more editors should suggest as much to their authors.
Not Publishing Half Books
I don’t believe in half books. Either a book is in the series or it is not. If the story in the half book was not considered pertinent enough to be included in the actual overall conception of the original narrative, why should I bother reading it? Because I am cynical, I view half books not as valuable additions to a series, but as attempts to get devoted fans to spend more money. Frankly, it does not seem quite sporting, and I wish the trend of the half book would end.
Calling YA Books “Teen Books”
I realize this may sound strange, but my anecdotal experience is that a not-insignificant part of the public is unfamiliar with the way publishers (and hence bookstores and libraries) tend to categorize books. People who are not avid readers or who do not read YA or who do not follow the publishing industry sometimes have no idea what YA books are. It would be easier for everyone if we returned to calling them teen books. That way, parents, grandparents, and other well-meaning adults trying to get books for the teens in their lives will know where to start.
What publishing trends do you think should come back?