Five backlist novels and two new titles are featured in Point of View, a fall marketing initiative from Penguin Young Readers Group. The campaign, which focuses on literary books with strong, somewhat challenging themes, entails consumer and trade components and aims to connect readers who embraced such novels as Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher and Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson to new books with a similar appeal.

The track records of the program’s backlist offerings are impressive: New York Times bestseller Thirteen Reasons Why has more than 400,000 copies in print; Wintergirls, another NYT bestseller, received five starred reviews; Anderson’s Speak, an National Book Award finalist, has sold almost two million copies; Gayle Forman’s NYR bestseller If I Stay shipped more than 70,000 copies in its first month on sale; and Looking for Alaska by John Green, the 2006 Printz Award winner, has more than 300,000 copies in print. Rounding out the Point of View promotion are Amy Efaw’s After, an August title from Viking; and Hold Still by debut author Nina LaCour, due from Dutton in October.

The publisher’s initial promotion for Thirteen Reasons Why, a fall 2007 Razorbill release, inspired the Point of View campaign, explains Emily Romero, v-p of marketing for the group. A comment tool on the book’s Web site garnered more than 500 responses within 24 hours and has since brought in 10,000 comments. “Over and over again teens said that this book, which is about a girl who has committed suicide, changed their lives,” Romero says. “It was obvious that the novel’s provocative theme and great literary voice resonated with readers. There was a tremendous word-of-mouth excitement and from that experience we knew we wanted to create a way to make it easier for teens to find similar books.”

Key components of the Point of View marketing campaign include a dedicated Web site featuring book trailers, content by and live Webcast events with the authors, book excerpts, a comment tool and downloadable discussion guides. Also scheduled are banner advertising and a message board on Nickelodeon’s The N Web site, which has a dedicated Point of View hub; trade and consumer advertising for each featured title; and branded links to the POV Web site on the individual novels’ Web sites. Borders, Barnes and Noble, Hastings and other independent retailers are supporting the program with merchandising tools provided by the publisher.

Joy Peskin, executive editor at Viking, who edited Wintergirls and After, views the campaign as “a great opportunity to give attention to important books by our newer authors, by tying them into more established authors whom booksellers and readers already know. To have new novels like After, about a teen who gives birth to a baby she then abandons in a dumpster, linked through this campaign to books by Laurie Halse Anderson and Jay Asher gives emerging authors a chance to find their audience more quickly than they might have otherwise.”

The publisher will revamp the Point of View program in spring and fall 2010, when it will tout new groupings of novels. Having a vehicle to promote books with edgy, real-life themes and high-quality writing is rewarding to Peskin as an editor. “These are hands-down my favorite books to edit and they speak to teens in a powerful way,” she says. “Reading books about challenging subjects can help a teen make a decision that could be life-saving. This is a great opportunity to promote novels that will encourage teens to reach out to each other and to help friends get through difficult times.”