Houston, We have a problem!

As you know, the window is now closed for 28 Days Later submissions.  And being the good little Brown Bookshelf member that I am, I’m getting a jump on my research.

One of the things we do, beyond accepting public submissions, is stay abreast of what’s out there so we can add names to the list ourselves, as well.  So I thought I’d stroll a few sites and see if I was missing anything in the way of YA for Af-Am teens.

I go to Barnes & Noble and key in “African American young adult” in the search box.  It sends me 400 results.

Why? Why on earth was #11 on the list Afterburn by Zane?  #14 was Hood: An Urban Erotic Tale and #18 Thong on Fire?

What in the world?!  I’m wondering if I should bother reading the rest of the list.

As much as it baffles me, it also reinforces why the Brown Bookshelf does what it does.

I’m no techie, so I’m not clear how B&N’s search wizards cull their results. Perhaps the word “African American” is what threw it off or maybe the word “adult.”  But the fact that most of the first 10 books on there were indeed YA books tells me that the search engine sort of knew what I was talking about.

Rather than be discouraged, I’d like to think that in another two years I could conduct the same search and actually get the first 50 books to be ALL African American young adult books.  It can happen, with the help of our dedicated readers and gate keepers interested in passing along age-appropriate reads, of course.

If you’d like to see actual YA books appear on a search for young adult books, pass the Brown Bookshelf link on to five librarians, teachers or parents that you know.

One step at a time. That’s what I keep telling myself. One step at a time.

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2 Responses to Houston, We have a problem!

  1. Keri says:

    I hope the problem is just that Barnes and Noble weights high selling over most accurate match in their algorithm (and the fact that more people are reading Thong on Fire than say Kendra is crazy to me but not that surprising unfortunately). There are certainly 50 YA books by African-American authors (or featuring African-American characters) – though we certainly need more!

    I think Young Adult as a search term is problematic a lot of times. Sometimes its teen; sometimes its YA. Half the time Amazon lists all children’s books at ages 9-11 even though most of them are not in this category. I do a lot of searching for upcoming books and even on publishers’ websites its hard to narrow down to what you’re looking for.

  2. Paula says:

    I think Young Adult as a search term is problematic a lot of times. Sometimes its teen; sometimes its YA. Half the time Amazon lists all children’s books at ages 9-11 even though most of them are not in this category.

    I agree. When researching for 28 Days Later I spend a good deal of time trying to properly classify a book. For me, YA means it’s for 13+ and the protag is no younger than 13. I’ve always followed the 2 year rule – the reader of the book is likely no more than two years younger than the book’s protag.

    But I’ve seen YA books where the protag is younger, which I’ll automatically classify as MG. I realize there is no hard and fast rule on classification as it’s subject matter, sentence structure etc…It gets very confusing.

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