David Levithan of Scholastic just spoke at Mega Mashup on the Hunger Games, Harry Potter and the new YA readership phenomena. The Hunger Games became a huge hit for Scholastic in part because it discovered a network of passionate evangelists. With a nod to the quality of the initial product, Levithan spoke of distributing enormous amounts of review qualities, confident in the fact that it would pay off.
Obviously it did, with the first Hunger Games movie now enjoying enormous success. Levithan spoke as well of general trends in the YA space, describing Hunger Games as one corner of the triangle that also included Harry Potter and Twilight. Many young readers now have instant access to books on e-reading devices, and the internet word-of-mouth process allows buzz and fandom to spread quickly.
Interestingly, the popularity of Hunger Games has produced a new glut of “Distopian Fiction” being pitched to the publishing world, (for example, Scholastic has also begun publishing “Tomorrow Girls” as a “Hunger Games-Lite” for the younger set of readers,) but Levithan predicts a resurgence of realistic fiction to happen next as a backlash.
One question that came out of the session: Will this new generation of readers create a new generation of writers? David’s answer was yes, citing NaNoWriMo and online fan fiction communities as examples of a trend in that direction. “The YA books boom fueled an interest in stories,” and we won’t see that trend going away anytime soon.