>Tell Us What to Do

>After enduring my second round with the dentist with an audiobook about a serial killer who removed his (or her, I haven't managed to finish it yet) victims' teeth, I decided for my third date with Dr. Guen to try some chicklit (chiclets, heh) again and began listening to Sally Koslow's Little Pink Slips, the roman a clef about Rosie O'Donnell's takeover of McCalls. I'm enjoying it enormously: the writing is several cuts above Sophie Kinsella's, and leagues from Plum Sykes or the Prada and Nanny girls. When the book begins, our heroine, the editor in chief, who is soon to be usurped (or something, I'm only an hour in) by the Rosie character, has just come up with a radical re-visioning of her magazine (helped by a hunky but as-yet sexually ambiguous designer) only to be outfoxed by her "frenemy," the publisher character, who has come up with her own plan to brand the magazine with the Rosie character's imprimatur.

The book's discussions' about the future of the fictitious Lady magazine made me think: What could the Horn Book Magazine do better, or more of, or more interestingly? I always have this question running around in my mind (this is not necessarily a sign of dedication; it stems as much from my default anxiety as anything else) and I've come up with plenty of ideas that usually involve money we don't have. Like becoming a monthly, or printing in color, for example. Some ideas don't cost anything, but they do collide with Tradition: changing the logo, say, or making the magazine a standard size (which would actually save money).

And while book reviews remain the number one reason people subscribe to us, more and more of our readers access them electronically, either through our own hornbookguide.com or via our licenses to the various wholesalers who sell books to schools and libraries, who provide their customers with ancillary databases of reviews and bibliographic information. So I think print book reviews, ours and everyone else's, will become less and less important to the school-and-library audience that is our mainstay.

So what should the Horn Book--the print Horn Book--do? My enthusiasm for The Invention of Hugo Cabret in great part stems from how it's so necessarily a book. It needs ink on paper to do what it does; it needs to have page-turns to convey the story. There's plenty that the Horn Book, Inc. can and does do electronically to "blow the horn for fine books for boys and girls," (our sturdy mission statement since the 1920s) but what will keep our print-self necessary? What can we do with the Magazine we can't do online? Who can we reach, and what would they want us to tell them? Yes, they pay me to answer these questions but they pay me to ask them, too. So, I'm asking.
Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.
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>I'd like to echo the "thinking person's window on children's books" comment. The length of the articles allows for a more in depth consideration of the topic but I appreciate the lack of academic language and trappings.
The size is, indeed, perfect for carrying about and for shelving at home. I look forward to every issue, read it as soon as I can (in the hammock if possible) and keep each one for years.
I don't mind having the illustrations in black and white although I wonder if you could have them in color on the web?
I really like having a selection of articles and reviews available on the web where I can send other readers including my children's lit students.
Finally, I think the mix of more-or-less traditional magazine and more modern website (with the blog but without bells and whistles and scripts I have to give permission to run) works well. I appreciate the openness of your website.

Posted : May 26, 2007 06:12

Saipan Writer

>I subscribe. I like the small size when I'm reading the Horn Book, but then I dislike it when I'm shelving it. So I could live with a larger format easily.

I read the Horn Book for the reviews. I'd like them to be longer, more detailed. I'd like more of them.

I, too, like the ads. They have a spark of fun and that greedy push of enterprise, which is a nice counterpoint to the cerebral quality of the rest of the publication. I would not want the ads to overtake the magazine, though.

I think teachers are a natural audience for the Horn Book. Many don't have money to spare on subscriptions, but EVERY school in America should be receiving your publication. (Do you give discounts to schools? If so you should promote it more.)

And I like a few pictures thrown in. You mention THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET, which is wonderful proof that black and white can be very visually attractive.

A big thanks for all you do at Horn Book and on this blog.

Posted : May 23, 2007 06:52


>I like bimonthly - more is NOT better. The Horn book is one of the few publications that I receive that I actually read from cover to cover.

I like the size but could live with bigger if it would help the mag.

Posted : May 23, 2007 03:53


>I like the Hornbook printed just as it is whenever I can get my greedy paws on any printed copy in any condition...though I will read online, on the computer system when necessary to get at what I need.

I wish it came out every month, too.

A tad few more articles in each issue would be the extra cherries on top of the banana splits.

I secretly wish for colored stars in glittery colors but since words have colors for me anyway I imagine that I can manage without.

I like best the issues articles, the hotter the better, and the articles about how writers and illustrators work in their creative spaces. I like it when new facts and research pressure articles with new insights on nonfiction books and historical fiction, for example, too.

I know this last suggestion is way, WAY, way out in outer space, but...have you ever, ever considered letting in an article or review now and again by an articulate, well-read CHILD? Or young adult? Perhaps this might be a way too to attract and entrap a younger-age readership.

Posted : May 22, 2007 10:49


>perhaps it's a mistake to be linked with the GLOBE? People tend to think HORNBOOK is a local New England publication. Maybe you WANT to limit your readership to the Boston brahmin audience? (It's classier!)

Posted : May 22, 2007 07:11

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