Thursday, April 15, 2010

Looking Back on CWIM: The 1991 Edition
An Interview with SCBW's Sue Alexander...

With an increase in the number of markets from the year before, the 1991 edition of CWIM was more than 280 pages (at $16.95) and offered eight "Close-up" interviews and a piece on trends (that is somehow both dry and treacly).

One of the Close-ups by new CWIM editor Lisa Carpenter was an interview with the now late Sue Alexander, one of the original members of the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators which was then just SCBW. (The "I" was added later.) Note that according to the article SCBWI and I were born in the same year, but the founding of the organization was actually in 1971 according to scbwi.org. SCBWI now boasts a worldwide membership of more than 22,000, almost quadruple the 1991 membership, and they offer the Sue Alexander Most Promising Work Award.

Here's an excerpt from the Sue Alexander Close-up:

"We are probably the best source of information about the children's book field," says Sue Alexander, chairperson of the board of directors for the Society of Children's Book Writers
(SCBW).

The Society of Children's Book Writers was started by approximately 30 Los Angeles writers in 1968. Today the SCBW boasts a nationwide membership in excess of 6,500.

Alexander, herself a fulltime writer of picture books and early readers, has had 22 books published since 1973. She's been writing all her life, or at lease since she was eight years old. Though no longer a novice, her involvement in the SCBW has made her aware of the questions most beginners have.

Alexander say the current boom in children's books is due to the increased enthusiasm about education. "You have a group of parents who married later, has more money and recognizes the value of reading for children."

Young adult novels are slumping for reason of economics, she says. "Young people of 13-14 don't have $14.95 in their pockets to buy (hardcover) books and they wouldn't be caught dead walking into a children's bookstore. So they are going to bookstores in malls and buying the cheaper paperbacks. Therefore, the hardcover book sales in YA books have had to fall back on the traditional market for children's books--libraries and schools. Unfortunately, libraries and schools don't have as much money as they used to."

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