On April 26 Scholastic will launch “this is teen,” a program aimed at connecting teens with books and authors and building a community of readers. Components of the initiative, the first of its kind for the publisher, include a dedicated Facebook page, location-based mobile gaming technology through SCVNGR (pronounced “scavenger”), and a five-city author tour featuring Scholastic YA authors Meg Cabot, Libba Bray, and Maggie Stiefvater.

“We have so many wonderful teen books and we wanted to create a community and a destination for readers,” explains Stacy Lellos, Scholastic’s v-p of marketing. “We wanted to go where teens are, which is obviously on Facebook, so we came up with the idea of creating a virtual book club experience where the conversation starts with books.” The dedicated Facebook page will enable teens to communicate with authors and other readers, and will also feature exclusive author videos, blog entries, trivia, contests, and giveaways.

The ongoing Facebook component of “this is teen” will be supported by a sequence of promotional ventures, the first of which is Scholastic’s partnership with SCVNGR, the mobile gaming application platform that enables consumers to participate in challenges at specified locations using their smart phones. While visiting participating bookstores, teens can embark on “this is teen” book-related challenges to accumulate points and be automatically enrolled in a sweepstakes to win one of four MacBook Airs. Sample challenges are devising the best opening line for a story, snapping photos of specific titles in the store, and getting books signed at author events.

Scholastic’s “this is teen” collaboration with SCVNGR’s (which has never before partnered with a publisher) will extend through the summer. “It’s exciting for us to partner with SCVNGR on this program and give readers a chance to have this fun, interactive experience,” Lellos says. “Since teens’ habits revolve around smart phones and gaming, it’s great to be able to use this platform to link teens to books and reading, and to drive them into bookstores.”

The publisher has lined up more than 500 independent and chain bookstores across the country to participate in the SCVNGR initiative. These include the stores hosting “this is teen Live,” the tour that will bring Cabot, Bray, and Stiefvater to New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, and Miami. Launching on May 24, the tour coincides with Scholastic’s release of Cabot’s Abandon (April), Bray’s Beauty Queens (May), and Stiefvater’s Forever (July).

Though this tour is clearly oriented toward girl readers, Lellos emphasizes that “this is teen” also reaches out to boys. “This is very much an experience for teen boys too, and we will be featuring books and doing promotions on Facebook that are geared to guys,” she says. “It is important to us that this initiative becomes a two-way conversation, so that we can listen to what all teen readers have to say about books. And of course we see this as a way to facilitate teens’ sense of community with authors and other teens as well.”

Scholastic is promoting the launch of “this is teen” with postcards to be distributed on the tour and at major conventions, including BEA, ALA, and Teen Book Con; “this is teen” flash drives for convention distribution; and shelf talkers and easel backs for display in bookstores participating in the SCVNGR promotion.