The Publishers Advertising and Marketing Association hosted a luncheon at the New York Times last Wednesday, during which New York Times Book Review editor Pamela Paul explained recent and upcoming changes to the paper’s books coverage, including that of children’s and young adult titles.
As of last summer, all of the Times’ books coverage has been united under a single desk overseen by Paul. At the beginning of 2017, the paper eliminated several bestseller lists, including the graphic novel list, a move that sparked concern from many in publishing.
Children’s books editor Maria Russo will continue to lead coverage of children’s and young adult books through reviews and new kinds of features. Paul stated that a few changes have already been put into effect in that area. Young adult coverage in particular has increased in frequency to reflect the genre’s popularity among both teens and adults. Coverage of teen books will remain separate from children’s coverage in print, in an effort to reach more readers. Paul also mentioned the recent addition of YA roundups, which are featured in the regular pages of the Book Review.
The Times’ children’s book coverage is also expanding within the digital sphere. Russo has recently started recording Facebook Live segments, in which she interviews picture book illustrators and graphic artists. Paul framed this social media activity as part of the Book Review’s effort “to reach readers where they are.” Though she has three children of her own, all under the age of 11, Paul cannot persuade them to pick up the Times Book Review. She can, however, entice them to watch Russo’s interviews with illustrators like Nick Bruel.
Paul stated that readers will start seeing more changes to the Book Review in the next month or two, though she could not offer specifics yet. Editorial director Radhika Jones, who joined the Times last November, is overseeing the redesign of the section and hopes to create new venues—such as featurettes—to cover titles that may not otherwise be covered. For the children’s books section, the aim is to find out what teachers, librarians, parents, and kids want to know and to adjust reportage accordingly. Paul mentioned the possible creation of niche book lists and other resources for readers’ advisory.
Addressing publishers’ concern about the elimination of certain dedicated bestsellers lists—including graphic novels, middle grade paperbacks, teen paperbacks, and middle grade and YA e-book lists—Paul said that “every book still has a chance to get on the list. It’s just that the competition is tougher.” She believes the new kinds of coverage, including Facebook Lives, will have a wider reach than the traditional lists and will increase discoverability of titles.