After a brief flurry of attempts to define young adult fiction, Sharyn November provided a handy list of categores of fiction: prereading, easy to reads, intermediate reading, 8-12 (children's novel), middle-grade novel, high middle grade (low young adult), and classic YA (12 and up) with more modern, racier novels intended kids 14 and up. "Really bleeds over into adult as far as I'm concerned."
November also spoke about how teenagers and children self-edit; that they'll look up or skip over words they don't understand, and that if something doesn't interest them, they'll skip over it and continue on with the story. November sees less analysis, (Bear Less irony?) in YA novels because the protagonists do not have as much comparative experience to draw on. "I think we underestimate our audience."
She also says "Teenagers are the most exactling audience I know.... Teenagers (and I) don't have a lot of patience for the endless sort of deconstruction--"
Waterhouse commented on finding adult fantasy novels in the children's section, like Caroline Stevermer's new book, which evolved into a conversation of how books are packaged. Adolescent "chick lit" came in for a certain amount of discussion (and mockery). Sharyn November comments that kids who read fantasy learn it from their parents, and the spike in YA sales has a great deal to do with the bubble of children-of-baby-boomers and a large (and, obviously, age-mobile) demographic.
Pullman and marketing--the books have been issued in both adult and YA-looking editions--November and Monette commented on how Pullman's work can be seen as similar to Eco's The Name of the Rose, in that they are dense and chewy and somehow broke out nonetheless.
Sharyn November revealed that The Tough Guide To Fantasyland will becoming back into print, as a part of Wynne-Jones' backlist being reissued.
Jane Yolen, an invited heckler in the audience, also had a great deal to say about how chains and marketing can affect sales of childen's books, and November commented on the impact that librarians and the book awards they present for childrens/YA fiction support the market.
November: "I don't like parents being too involved in what their children are reading, because a book is the one place you can go to be by yourself."
Good panel. *g* coffeeandink has more coming up.