Noteworthy: Penguin & the Teen Book Community

Friday 8th June 2007, London Penguin UK today announced the launch of a pioneering online book community for teenagers. will be a stimulating and entertaining portal into the world of books, run by teenagers themselves. Editorial control of the site will be in the hands of a core editorial team of nine teenagers aged between 13 and 18 years, supported by a large network of contributing teen editors from across the UK.

The teen editors will begin bringing the site to life in July with an
intensive four-week internship at youth marketing agency Livity who
Penguin have teamed up with to create Working with
journalists, authors, editors and web designers, the teen team will
produce a wide variety of multi-media content including video and audio
reviews, alternative book jackets and endings, soundtracks, author
interviews, podcasts, blogs, short stories and much more.

A recently commissioned Penguin survey into teen reading habits showed the following results:

  • Three in four teenagers get their information on books from the
    internet and wished there was more information on books available to
    them on the internet.
  • Nearly 44% of surveyed teens never or rarely visit a chain bookshop and 68% never or rarely visit an independent bookshop.
  • 69% of teens think they will be doing more reading online in the future.
  • Teens who rate reading as cool are the most frequent visitors to social networking sites.

Anna Rafferty, Penguin’s Online Marketing Director, said: “Publishers
and the book trade are failing to reach teenagers via traditional
methods of marketing and have been slow to create a space on or off
line where teenagers can interact with books. Penguin is taking the
lead, making books a far more attractive proposition in a crowded teen
market place, harnessing their creativity, getting them involved in the
creative process and hopefully making them readers for life.”

The teen team will have the opportunity to discuss, debate and interact
with Penguin’s rich source of publishing from contemporary titles such
as Meg Rosoff’s Just in Case, Nick Hornby’s first book for teenagers
Slam, Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation to classics such as J.D
Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye and Kerouac’s On the Road.

“ will take the user from the page to the web and
vice versa,” says Rafferty. “There will be a seamless collaboration
between Penguin’s unbeatable pool of writing, design and publishing
talent and the ever-expanding legion of creative, internet savvy
teenagers around the world.”

Mahta Hassanzadeh, aged 18, said: “Getting teenagers involved with the
running of the website is an excellent idea! It encourages more
teenagers to participate in schemes where they can get hands on
experience in a field they may want to go into in the future. Also, the
fact that teenagers are so heavily involved in the project could make
creative writing and reading more appealing to other teens.”

“There aren’t many sites where teens can share and discuss their ideas
about the books that they have read, and this is a great chance to do
so.” says Aijamal Bahibek Kizi, aged 15. “Sometimes you have read a
book and none of your friends know about it and you are dying to talk
to someone, and this is just a great place to do so. Plus you can find
out a lot about other books that may be interesting to you that you
don’t know about.” launches September 2007.

Spinebreakers Press Release – Penguin Books Ltd

Note: Says nothing about anyone instructing teens on how to self govern/moderate/screen. Granted, U13s are not invited. Probably the best course of action since they’re the hardest group to tackle. Perhaps if this site does well, they can open one for the younger tater tots. We’ve got kids on our site every day yearning to chat about their favorite books. Probably not the same length or depth as the teens will on spinebreakers, but the tweens are still out there and are consumers.

First and foremost: I think this exciting.

I’ll be watching like a bandit. Why? Because it’s a kickin’ idea overall. It will be interesting to see how they engage, illicit, empower, and protect.

(Okay, off to Covent Garden for Coronation Chicken sandwiches, mmmm lol)

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