Ask any teenager what the acronym TRL stands for and you'll likely get a quick response (TRL=Total Request Live, an enormously popular daily video countdown/artist showcase on MTV). Barnes & Noble hopes to attain equally instant recognition (and the same cool vibe) with TLZ, the chain's promotional "teen lit 'zine," which launched nationwide in B&N stores last month.
The premiere issue rolled out with 150,000 copies and features a photo of pop star Britney Spears on the cover and a tagline touting A Mother's Gift (Delacorte), the YA novel Spears cowrote with her mother, Lynne. Inside TLZ, a bold design with lots of color, pull quotes and bold type highlights such teen titles as Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul III by Jack Canfield et al. (Health Communications), Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (Farrar, Straus & Giroux/Puffin) and Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer (Hyperion/Talk Miramax).
TLZ appears to be part of a broader B&N effort to reach out to teens. In June the chain officially changed its in-store signage from YA to Teen Reading, an identity issue that has been debated by booksellers, editors and authors for years. "The teen audience is one we've been trying to capture for quite some time, as has the entire publishing industry," noted Debra Williams, director of corporate communications for B&N. "We received feedback from teen focus groups and we learned that teens were looking for something different, something beyond the YA and juvenile sections in our stores. We wanted to give them a magazine that related to their interests."
According to Williams, the children's marketing group at B&N selects the titles featured in TLZ (partly based on what is selling well) and provides the 'zine's editorial content as well. Plans are to publish TLZ three times per year, for the spring break, summer vacation and back-to-school seasons. "We're really excited about it," Williams said of the new venture. "We're trying to respond to what teens told us."