Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Age Banding Debate Rages On

Lots of folks have weighed in on the age-banding issue in the UK. Here are two particularly thoughtful responses.
Today in the Guardian Book Blog, Adele Geras has a piece entitled Age Banding Will Lead to a Two-Tier Book Trade. Here is an excerpt.

... and I did say, not too long ago in a comments box just round the corner from here, that I wouldn't say anything further on the subject.

I've changed my mind. And that's because while the educational, moral, ethical, financial and commercial reasons against this proposal are well-rehearsed, as far as I know nobody has mentioned that if the plan does go ahead, age banding will have another consequence: it will lead to a two-tier literary landscape.

The authors who sell in their zillions will not be affected because their publishers would not put an age on their covers without their consent and they have all withheld that consent. Horrid Henry, Alex Rider, Lyra, Charlie and Lola, and Harry Potter will quite rightly not submit to the system.
However, the others - those not even consulted, the less commercial, the unwary, the very new, the overlooked and the '"I don't mind either way" people - will come to be regarded as second-class literary citizens. That means that their books will stand less chance of being stocked by the chains and not more. They will suffer in terms of how seriously they are taken. A kind of literary snobbery may well creep in. Got an age range on your book? You're obviously not important enough.

She makes some compelling arguments. As we continue to weigh the advantages and disadvantages to such a practice, do take a moment to read her views.

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