First published in hardcover by Farrar, Straus & Giroux Books for Young Readers in 1999, Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak is a YA novel that gave a voice to teenagers suffering their emotional trials in silence. And it clearly spoke to many readers. A National Book Award finalist, a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, and winner of numerous awards, the novel, which tackles the subject of date rape, has been translated into 20 languages and has sold more than 2.5 million hardcover and paperback copies in the U.S. With Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group’s May 10 release of an e-book and a Square Fish paperback edition, Speak has new presence in the marketplace.
The Square Fish edition (before rights reverted to Macmillan, an earlier Speak paperback was published under Penguin’s Speak imprint) had an announced first printing of 150,000 copies. Addressing the book’s ongoing appeal, Jon Yaged, president of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, says, “The novel’s message is one of empowerment. It lets teens know that no matter how bad things are, speaking up is the best possible thing to do. It is a timeless story.” The fact that the new Square Fish edition has been sold into such mass-market outlets as Target and Walmart, he adds, “speaks to the wide appeal of the novel.”
Yaged remarks that Speak is “a natural” for release as an e-book, and that this past week it was the top seller among Macmillan children’s imprints’ e-books. “People today are choosing where and how they want to read,” he says.” “Some readers like print, some like e-books, some buy both to suit their different reading purposes. Macmillan has made a commitment to publishing e-books; starting in 2011, every middle-grade and YA novels published will be released simultaneously in an e-book edition.” The children’s division will release an estimated 350 e-books this year.
Macmillan is supporting the new incarnations of Speak with Facebook advertising and other on-line initiatives, including a Figment.com promotion with Anderson, a Goodreads.com giveaway of the new paperback, and a new video of the author reading her Speak poem on MacKids.com and MacTeen.com. Also planned is an October promotion with RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network). And the company is doing outreach to mother-daughter book clubs, promoting the novel as a way to spark dialogue about a difficult topic.
“This novel clearly has an important message that still resonates today,” Yaged says. “We are thrilled to give Speak renewed life and to ensure that readers can get the book in any format they’d like.”
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Square Fish, $9.99 paper ISBN 978-0-312-67439-7; e-book $9.99 ISBN 978-1-4299-9704-1