Last week we wrapped up our trade show season, which saw us doing book displays/selling shows all across Ontario every week for the last 7 weeks. At these shows, we display about 1000 of the newest, hottest fiction, picture book, and non-fiction titles of the season, many of which are personal favourites that I intent to hand sell to our teacher librarian customers.
Sometimes, despite my enthusiasm and best efforts, a book simply flops. There can be many reasons for this- an unappealing cover, too specialized a topic, poor presentation, etc. But of all the reasons that a book doesn’t sell, it drives me nuts when the thickness of the book is the reason that my customers give for not purchasing it. “Kids don’t read thick books”, they tell me, but is that really true?
If you examine the page counts of some of today’s best-selling children’s novels, I’d have to say that this is not the case. Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series are definitely thick books, averaging at least 4-500 pages per book. Judging by high volume of sales we continue to experience on these titles, the thickness of the book is obviously not a problem with kids.
Other Bestselling series such as Chris D’Lacey’s Last Dragon Chronicles are well over the 300-400 page mark, and of course, some of the Harry Potter books were 600+ pages.
Why then, do adults think that kids won’t read a thick book? My theory is that it’s more a case of adults making an assumption (albeit a false one) that if they find a thick book daunting, kids will too. I also think that this stems from a time issue- that knowing that they likely won’t have time to read it themselves, and therefore, it’s an automatic rejection.
Personally, and feel free to dispute me on this, I think that a kid who is a reader will read anything that looks good and interests them regardless of the thickness. If a kid is not a reader, they are as likely to not read a thin book as a thick one. Books are an extremely personal and subjective choice. Not every book is for every reader (adult or kid), regardless of size. But judging the worthiness of a book purely by it’s page count seems no more reasonable than judging a dog by it’s breed, or a person by their skin colour.
So next time you are thinking about purchasing a book for a library or a classroom, or for the child in your life, before you reject a book because it’s thick, take the time to open it up, read a few pages, and give it a chance to engage you! You never know- you might just discover a treasure!
Rachel Seigel is the K-12 buyer at wholesaler S&B Books in Mississauga, Ontario. She also maintains a personal blog at http://readingtimbits.blogspot.com and can be found on Twitter as @rachelnseigel.