Publishers: Think Like a Kid

Elizabeth Bluemle - April 14, 2020

When we heard the news that one of spring’s most highly anticipated books for kids wouldn’t be coming out until late summer, I’ll be honest: it felt like a gut punch—to kids.

All these children who had just learned they would be sheltering in place at home for weeks to come, whose worlds had shrunk practically to the size of their living rooms, were so in need of the kind of joy a new book by their favorite author brings.

I understand why a publisher would think it was a good idea to push back pub dates, and for adult books, I get it. But for children’s books, it’s different. Kids don’t care if a book tour happens three minutes or three months (or three years, pretty much) after a pub date, and I think spring sales would have been through the ROOF with parents desperate to entertain and buoy their kids. The proof is in the bookstores; those of us still operating and fulfilling orders are seeing Christmas-like sales.

Very possibly, these pushed-back release dates have to do with factors I don’t know, like questionable sourcing for the books or delays at the printers during these crazy times. But if they don’t, if it’s just a matter of author tours or marketing strategies, well, then, Publishers, I entreat you to think like a kid.

Books are friends for lonely children. Taking away a promised friend at the time it’s most needed seems a sideways strategy. Children are the most loyal, ardent fans, and they will hanker for that book no matter when you bring it out. They’ll buy it whenever it comes out, so why not now?

Children don’t understand a publisher’s reasoning for the delay. All they know is that a book they were so excited about, that was going to brighten their mood in quarantine, that they could chatter about over a video with a friend, has been suddenly taken away—like everything else this spring.

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