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29 July 2008

Are that many people really reading Stephenie Meyers? I work in the book business and there's a bunch of excitement about the latest Stephenie Meyers book, but here's the thing: I can't shake the feeling that the hype is a little artificial.[More:] Well, duh, yeah of course it is, but I mean more than usual. With midnight releasing parties and such like it feels like the industry is trying to manufacture a Harry Potter replacement. Are a lot of people really reading her books and getting deeply into them? Are there lots of people who love the characters? Do you know people of all ages who are reading these things, or is it purely a young adult thing? Is this genuinely a cultural phenomenon on some level, or is it all just marketing?
Looks like she's gotten some good reviews. Looks also like she's got a big fan base, and the movie's coming out this Christmas. Even so, I never heard of her until your post, but then I'm sort of in "those kids today" territory, age-wise.

I'm kind of burned out on fantasy kid lit (especially when it comes in gigantic tomes), but if anyone here's read her and can attest that she's at least a little better with words than Rowling, I might give her a look.
posted by middleclasstool 29 July | 08:37
I live a good portion of my life in book stores and I'd never heard of this series before. It's being so heavily promoted now. I suspect its artificial, but then, I also think marketers are pure evil.
posted by DarkForest 29 July | 08:38
I feel pretty cynical about the whole children's-books-as-adult-reading phenom; perhaps my childhood tastes in trash fantasy ran to more adult sword-and-sorcery stuff like Conan and Elric, so I shudder when I see adults reading PG-13 fare like the Potter novels, which I would've thought lame even as a boy. I like moral ambiguity, among other things.

I don't hold anything against adults who read children's books, but I do think they're being hoodwinked by industry to a certain extent. Most bestsellers aren't my cup of tea, though: they're more media events than they are reading material anymore.
posted by Hugh Janus 29 July | 08:40
I don't hold anything against adults who read children's books

Me neither, but this is kind of the root of my skepticism: I don't believe as many adults are reading the Meyers books as the publisher would like us to think.
posted by Lentrohamsanin 29 July | 08:48
You're probably right.

It's like once Madonna came out with her third or fourth album, showing she had staying power as a star, the popmakers tried to fit every subsequent disposable idol into her mold, usually with disastrous results. The industry still does it, so we have Britney and a host of others stinking around past their pull dates.

I guess that's a different ball of wax, but it's a similar cynical manipulation of public expectations with a similar result: media that would at best be a guilty pleasure is mainstreamed to a point where culture is subsumed by the market and individuals count only inasmuch as they are consumers. Everybody exercises choice, but everybody's choices are narrowed by constant corporate attempts to re-engineer opinion.
posted by Hugh Janus 29 July | 09:03
Aren't the Meyers books for adults? I got the impression they were sort of Anne Rice Lite - my total acquaintance with them comes from a semi-local blog I read occasionally; the author seems to work at a bookstore (not in Asheville) and be a giant fan. From what she says, I thought they were yet more soft core vampire porn. There's a lot of that out there nowadays; I actually got sucked into some but by book three, it was so totally distasteful (I have no problem with pr0n; I have a problem when it's surrounded by huge giant liberal helpings of really gory violence) that I've sort of junked the whole genre.
posted by mygothlaundry 29 July | 09:24
I had a friend talking about a midnight release party for a series of books about Vampires. The Twilight series or something? Is this the same thing?

She didn't name the author, and you didn't name the book. What is up with the level of assumption on the Internet these days? CONTEXT MOAR.

Either way, I've never heard of either Stephanie Meyers or the Twilight Stories.
posted by Eideteker 29 July | 09:29
Oh, I found it.
posted by Eideteker 29 July | 09:31
I think that they're huge among teens, but not adults like the Harry Potter books were. The last time she came to one of our shops she had at least 200-300 kids there (possibly more). Barnes and Noble has been hyping the series since the first book came out, and when I used to work with high schoolers, some of the girls were huge fans.

I don't know many/any booksellers that have read it, but we're having a party for the release that costs money to attend and the tickets have been selling (not as well as Harry Potter of course).

If you want manufactured hype though, look towards the final book in the Eragon series. It's my impression that people really liked the first book, but between a really bad movie and a disappointing second book, interest has died off. However, the publisher still thinks it is going to be huge, and is trying to convince people to have midnight sales for it. On top of that, they have ridiculous demands about how you can promote the book's release (which Harry Potter had too, but it was more understandable).

posted by drezdn 29 July | 09:36

Oops, sorry. This stuff has been inescapable in my world lately and I got a little blinded.
posted by Lentrohamsanin 29 July | 09:38
Huh. Never heard of her either. Doesn't look like something I'd be into though, even though I am not a discriminating reader. (Seriously, if it has a dragon on the front cover, I'll probably read it.)
posted by gaspode 29 July | 09:39
I'm one of those reading it. I got sucked in because I happen to dig trashy cheap novels and I'm all 'ooh, tragic romance' sort of things. Some aspects of the series squick me like something serious (including some of the spoliery stuff for the 4th book, which comes out on Saturday).
The movie looks like it's going to either be a huge hit or a huge bucket o fail, but I'll still go see it, purely for ogling factor.

Based on my poking around on LJ, it's definitely more of a young adult thing and less adults are reading it (aside from the Twilight Moms, but that's a whole other level of batshit insanity).

I think that her publisher is trying to force it to be a Harry Potter replacement and while there is a certain amount of people trying to make it seem like SRS BZNS, I think that it won't ever reach that same level of insanity. (I don't think it has the adult fan base and I don't think it ever will.)

It's a halfway decent beach read, even if the second book is depressing as fuck, but I wouldn't put it in any sort of SERIOUS reading category.
posted by sperose 29 July | 09:43
I dunno, I've heard lots of hype about these books on ONTD and even from some friends on Facebook, so it's possible there's something real behind the hype. Vampires scare me, though, so I think I'll pass.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 29 July | 09:44
(And if I actually previewed, this would be with my comment): They market this more as a young adult book because there is a serious lack of sex in it. But the fanfic department has MORE than filled that niche.
posted by sperose 29 July | 09:45
The impression I got from Gail Collin's poorly written and dismissive editorial about the books (my only exposure to them) was that they were young adult books.

I can't read YA books, even the ones I really loved or thought substantive when I was younger (like Susan Cooper, for instance), as an adult. They just don't engage me. It's not that they are somehow too shallow (I read those indistinguishable from one another crime novels on airplane) but just that the types and tones of the stories don't hold my interest.
posted by crush-onastick 29 July | 09:55
The Twilight series has real strength to it because the series is targeted to the powerful demographic that is teenage girls. I don't think guys are reading it (and guys read Harry Potter) since the main character is written as a faux-male who doesn't actually a shread of testerone in his body which makes him incredibly unthreatening and incredibly popular to a specific group of teenage gals.
posted by stynxno 29 July | 09:59
I have heard lots of about this series as well. I see the hype at B&N. The displays and posters and such. I never knew her target audience was young adults.
posted by LoriFLA 29 July | 10:07
My 13-year-old daughter is way into Twilight, but then, she's been into the creepy stuff for a while. Twilight is definitely a kids-only thing--I have only a vague knowledge of the content, while I knew Harry Potter inside and out, even though I never read a word, and saw only one of the movies. There's a lot of drama, apparently, which is just what a 13-year-old kid wants to read about. It's kind of odd, though, that she doesn't talk about it. I mean, I hear all about the newest Korean boy band and fashion and boys and stuff, but she's never said much about this series.
posted by mrmoonpie 29 July | 10:12
As you may know, I'm a public librarian.

Are a lot of people really reading her books and getting deeply into them?

More than Eldest, less than Harry Potter.

Do you know people of all ages who are reading these things, or is it purely a young adult thing?

Young adults, plus some adult chick-lit and fantasy readers.

Is this genuinely a cultural phenomenon on some level, or is it all just marketing?

More the latter than the former. You know as well as I do how badly everybody wants to find the new Potter.
posted by box 29 July | 11:56
I never a-heard a her.
posted by Specklet 29 July | 12:39
mmm, i work in publishing and specialize in titles appealing to the YA spectrum. while these aren't part of my list, nor my publishing house... i'd have to say that yes, the numbers on roll-out and continued interest (not to mention a movie coming out this year with some fairly recognizable names,) do warrant a kind of event for the publishing industry. if it gets the kids (and adults) out to buy a book and savor the experience, why not? horray!

hey, i wish these were my titles, that's how well they sell and how good the "sell-through" is (i.e. how well the books that get shipped to the retailers sell through to customers - hence "sell-through"). sure, they're not harry potter, but that had an announced first release of some 12 million with number 5-7, we NEVER saw those numbers before and will likely never see them again.

meyers first pub'd in 2005 and those twilight books have stayed in the top lists pretty much ever since. she's become a kind of cult figure for tweens and teens ever since and good on her. i'm still trying to wrestle that book away from my 12 year old...

throw us a bone here folks. getting folks to be excited over reading, let alone young adults is an event in itself lately.
posted by eatdonuts 29 July | 20:19

(I kind of work in the book business, too, and I've never heard of her)
posted by jonmc 29 July | 20:31
I'm so sick of looking at book-jacket photos of James Patterson. He is my all-time least-favorite book-jacket photo author, even ahead of the nouveau-riche Danielle Steel and the creeptastic LaHaye/Jenkins monster. That fucking 'Relax' cap. Yeah, it's easy to relax when you don't even write the books yourself, you squinty old hack.
posted by box 29 July | 20:47
review of the latest book and the series in general on today (may have to click through an ad).

Yeah, doesn't look like something I'd like.
posted by gaspode 29 July | 22:43
≡ Click to see image ≡
posted by box 29 July | 23:20
squinty old hack

This would have been perfect for the three-word game!
posted by initapplette 30 July | 08:07
Scrabulous was shut down last night in the US and Canada. || Mended spiderwebs.