The Alloy behind Teen Bestsellers
“‘I do fundamentally believe that publishing is not an expanding business,’ [Leslie Morgestein, a publishing executive at Alloy Entertainment] says. ‘It is contracting—even our corner of it [books for teens and tweens], which has been vibrant in the past few years. I don’t think long term there’s going to be sustainable growth there.’ As a result, the Alloy executives spend as much time thinking about ideas for television and movies as they do for books, and consider their book ideas in terms of their viability as television and film franchises.”
“‘Forbidden love is a lot of what’s behind “Twilight,”’ Morgenstein says. ‘It’s about longing and lust, but it’s not about sex, and that’s very powerful to younger teen girls.’”
In the spirit of commenting on bestsellers this year, these quotes come from a revealing and sobering article about the industry of bestselling teen novels in The New Yorker (Rebecca Mead’s “The Gossip Mill,” published in the Oct. 19, 2009, issue, and no longer freely available online—except as an abstract). It shows the no-holds-barred approach to producing commercially viable books. It struck me to note how the traditional sense of a single author is dissolved into collective brainstorming and ghostwriting, how the cult of originality is trumped by actively plucking ideas and series from all kinds of sources, and how movies profoundly affect the way in which plots are discovered and hammered into shape.