Or, you can't choose what you can't read.
More on the Readers Choice List over at the YALSA Blog. It's going to be interesting to see how this all works out, from rules to participation to end results. But then I'm a list girl so I love this type of stuff! There is also some talk of elitism (click the above link to read the full post.)
I still don't see how those books that are smaller, quieter, or not pushed by publishers are going to be able to be read by members, because the members won't have access. We aren't all privileged to work in well funded libraries with plenty of YA books; or multiple branch systems with books that easily flow from one branch to another. Heck, I've been reading of libraries considering cutting ILL or starting to charge for ILL. Personally, I don't work at a library that gets new YA books; my local library isn't particularly well funded, tho it is really cute; so I pay $100 a year to borrow books from my county. And I wonder if, with budget concerns, will this be one of the areas I cut back on. What about other people, other states?
Having worked with the Cybils, with a smaller number of readers, a more finite number of books, and some publisher support, I know it can be a real challenge to ensure that those who don't have money, don't belong to a well funded library system, don't have nearby bookstores with a variety of books, and don't get review copies, have the access to read the eligible books. The first year I spent over a hundred dollars on books and shipping to guarantee that nominated titles were being read by participants.
Look at what World Cat says about a handful of titles that I have blogged about:
Catching Fire at WorldCat 32 Libraries, and it's not published yet
Gringolandia at WorldCat 118 Libraries, May 2009
The Forest of Hands and Teeth at WorldCat 956 Libraries, April 2009
Flygirl at WorldCat 618 Libraries, January 2009
Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover at World Cat 389 Libraries, June 2009
The Forest of Hands and Teeth (which I loved) has also gotten tremendous support. Flygirl did, also; but one is zombies, and one is African American history, and one has over 300 more libraries carrying it than the other. (Of course, I didn't look to see how many copies of each book the libraries have.)
Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover came out one month after Gringolandia, but has 3 times the amount of copies as Gringolandia. One is by a NYT best selling author and is part of a best selling series; the other, a small press and historical fiction about the politics of Chile, and a family of political refugees living in America in the 1980s.
If I were totally obsessed (and it may seem like I am...but I'm not), I'd go to my local Barnes&Nobles and check out the shelves to see what they are carrying in their store.
I respect the YALSA members. But how can YALSA members embrace a book like Gringolandia or Flygirl in a Readers Choice award if they don't have access to the book to read? I'm very interested in how YALSA is going to address this issue for this List.
© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy