Somewhere between the ages of five and 11, kids stop reading. Well, maybe not all of them, but a recent study spearheaded by Scholastic Inc. shows that readership drops off as children age. The results show that 40 percent of kids between the ages of five and eight read for fun every day. Only 29 percent of nine- to 11-year-olds read as frequently, and that number declines sharply through age 17. Running Press Book Publishers thinks it knows why—and how to reverse this troublesome trend.
Running Press, a Philadelphia-based imprint of The Perseus Books Group, will release a new young adult (YA) title, “Cathy’s Book: If Found Call (650) 266-8233” on Oct. 2. The book, which has garnered headlines recently for both its ground-breaking approach and some controversial marketing arrangements, is the first of its kind from Running Press in that its content will drive young readers to seek answers to a plot full of twists and turns through media other than the pages on which it is printed.
“The No. 1 reason that kids give for not reading is that they can’t find anything they like to read,” says Rick Joyce, marketing director of Perseus Books. “Our take is that the books aren’t speaking to them. They’re not living in the world [kids] live in. And if you look at television, film, music, magazines and the Web, it’s a dense, rich environment with choices, with interactivity, with products, with other teenagers that they recognize … some of the young adult category has gotten maybe a little stale.”
That’s where “Cathy’s Book”—and all of its interactivity—comes in.
“The book is only the tip of the iceberg,” Joyce says. “There’s more story not in the text.” The story, which chronicles the adventures of a teenage heroine named Cathy investigating why her boyfriend broke up with her, prompts careful readers to uncover secrets and answers via Web sites they can visit, phone numbers they can call, and letters, photos and diary entries.
Matt Steinmetz is the publisher and brand director of Publishing Executive.